GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers watched enough NFL games during his bye weekend that he was well aware of the concussions suffered Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.
But the Green Bay Packers quarterback and reigning NFL MVP – even with his history of two concussions during the 2010 season – said Tuesday on his weekly radio show on 540 ESPN and ESPNWisconsin.com that their concussions don’t make him any more nervous about the inherent risks of playing quarterback or will alter how he plays the game.
“I don’t worry about it because I know what I’m getting into. I know that this is a violent game and those injuries are going to happen,” said Rodgers, who is returning Sunday to Detroit to face the Lions at Ford Field, where he suffered his second concussion late in the 2010 season, which kept him out of the following week’s game at New England.
“Two things strike me about those (hits on Smith and Cutler). “One is that it’s a reminder to get down because the guys on the other side of the ball are bigger, faster and stronger than they’ve ever been and it’s hard to lower your angle or be able to anticipate where a quarterback’s head is going to be. I’m not saying that’s every time, but sometimes it is hard for those guys to avoid those shots if we duck our head or if something happens in those cases. So there’s going to be some big hits, but you just have to try and avoid those as much as possible.
“My second thing that struck me about it was that I did see some comments that (49errs coach) Jim Harbaugh made about Alex having blurry vision when he threw a touchdown and I was surprised that those comments came out because of the protocol that they do. Now I guess it’s an after-the-fact thing, but I hope that if something were to happen like that to me again, and I know on the first two I don’t think we had a ton of that stuff come out, other than we played Detroit and I was obviously not all there even though I thought I was there right away.”
Rodgers’ concussion against the Lions occurred when he scrambled and took an unnecessary hit at the end of the run, his head slamming against the turf at the end of the play. Rodgers disputed that veteran wide receiver Donald Driver alerted the Packers’ medical staff that there was something wrong with him in that game and that Rodgers should not stay in the game.
“Yeah, that story is not true,” Rodgers said. “First of all, they would never put me back on the field once they got me on the sidelines. It was the case of a sudden change after we had punted the ball away and I was just trying to get back onto the field. Once we came off to the sideline after we had punted the ball and Dr. (John) Gray examined me, there was no way I was going back onto the field.
”Obviously I don’t remember the conversation with Donald at the time, which makes the whole concussion thing kind of weird because there’s a loss of my memory from when the play happened to kind of starting to remember things in the locker room when I was with (former Packers left guard) Daryn College who also was out that game. We were watching the game actually in the locker room. That makes it a little scary, but I can tell you that our medical staff is excellent and there is no way that they’re going to put us in a situation where further harm can come to us.”
Rodgers said he also saw Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger leave Monday night’s game with an injury to his throwing shoulder and talked about how he goes about trying to avoid hits when in the pocket.
“I can only talk for myself and what’s going through my head,” Rodgers said. “There’s a couple of positions that you don’t want to be in. You don’t want to be in a position where he’s got you wrapped and you can’t move your arms because then you’re going to go back straight on your back and maybe on your head a little bit and it’s going to be very painful. I always want to in those situations kind of twist a little bit and land more on my scapula, not directly on my shoulder. In a situation like that, a subtle movement I think can often save you from an injury.
“Actually I was told that from my high school coach who was talking about ways to avoid injury in a situation when you’re getting hit or being driven to the ground. He talked about moving to a position where you’re not taking a full impact on your shoulder or directly on your back. So that’s a thing I think about and have thought about since then.”
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