RENTON — Seahawks S Earl Thomas didn’t outright label Packers QB Aaron Rodgers a faker, but he didn’t sound convinced Rodgers production will be limited by his strained left calf muscle when Seattle faces the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field in Sunday’s NFC title game (12:05, FOX).
“I’m not buying into this leg issue, I’m not buying into it,” Thomas said Thursday during a press conference at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “I saw him scramble close to the goal line on the Cowboys, so he’s not fooling me with that.”
It wasn’t clear if Thomas was joking or explaining that the Seahawks’ defense plans to approach Rodgers the same way it would if Green Bay’s signal caller was healthy. Sunday, Rodgers threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns (125.5 passer rating) while hobbling around Lambeau Field in a 26-21 win over the Cowboys in the divisional round. For much of the game, Rodgers could barely run, but he nonetheless helped Green Bay overcome an eight-point deficit by throwing a pair of second-half touchdown passes.
“I think we’re going to go in assuming that he’s at his best, doing what he does,” said Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. “Even when he didn’t move out of the pocket, you could see how effective he is.”
Rodgers was a limited participant at Packers’ practice Wednesday and Thursday but is expected to play Sunday. Earlier this week, the California grad said his calf felt about the same is it did in the week leading up to the divisional round against the Cowboys. Part of the reason: His injury can fully heal only with rest, according to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“I’m not falling into that,” Thomas said of the quarterback’s leg injury. “I’m on my own road regardless.”
Sticking with a week-long theme, S Kam Chancellor said the Seahawks won’t approach Rodgers differently. He acknowledged that Rodgers isn’t full strength. Rodgers first hurt his calf in the second series of a Week 16 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then aggravated the injury in a win over the Lions in Green Bay’s final regular season game. Since, the Packers have operated almost exclusively out of the shotgun formation.
“If he’s in that game, no matter how he’s feeling, he’s still Aaron Rodgers,” Chancellor said. “He’s capable of making plays, capable of getting the ball downfield, getting it to his receivers and just running their offense.”
In three games with the injury, Rodgers’ numbers are stellar. He’s completed 72 of 97 passes (74 percent) for 860 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions.
“No matter what’s wrong with him, you can’t just doubt him or say that he’s going to be different because he’s hobbly and wobbly,” Chancellor said.
Seahawks MLB Bobby Wagner said Rodgers injury doesn’t change the defense’s approach because they weren’t expecting him to run, even if he was 100 percent.
“He’s a guy that’s always looking to pass, anyways,” Wagner said. “He always has his eyes downfield, always trying to find the open guy. We were going to chase him down whether he was healthy or not healthy.”
Thomas was also quick to praise Rodgers for his knowledge of the game, confidence and James Brown-esque flair to the way he approaches the position.
“You don’t see a lot of quarterbacks of his skin color with soul like that,” Thomas quipped. “And I like it.”
RT Justin Britt didn’t practice Wednesday because of a sore knee but returned as a full participant Thursday. Carroll said he isn’t sure if Britt will be available Sunday . . . DT Tony McDaniel (shoulder) also returned to practice Thursday but his status for Sunday remains in question… No one was held out or limited from practice Thursday . . . Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said Byron Maxwell has “had a great week so far” after Maxwell was limited in Saturday’s NFC divisional round because of chest pains stemming from the flu… Packers RB Eddie Lacy (knee) was limited for Green Bay’s Thursday practice . . . The Seahawks will hand out 60,000 commemorative NFC Championship rally towels Sunday. They can be picked up at all entrances.