Packers' Aaron Rodgers 'ready to roll' against Bears, Khalil Mack

-- Thanks to injuries, the Green Bay Packers' starting offensive line didn't play a single snap of preseason football alongside each other this past month.

However, entering Sunday night's inaugural game of the new season, all five are healthy and ready to regain their sense of cohesion.

"I think you have to just believe in the men," coach Mike McCarthy said on Wednesday. "I think it's obvious that we haven't practiced a whole lot together. ... These guys, they have a lot of playing experience. They just don't have the volume of reps in this particular training camp that you'd like going into it."

As of Wednesday evening, the Packers' injury report featured three players: Safety Josh Jones (out) and linebackers Oren Burks (limited) and James Crawford (limited). Not one offensive lineman.

"They'll have a great week of practice, and we'll be ready to go."

The Packers will need the best from their starting offensive line considering the Chicago Bears' newest acquisition, Khalil Mack, awaits them on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage.

The upside is that, by game time, Mack will only have had a week or so to practice with the team and learn the defense. Hardly enough for him to play at full capacity and completely impact the game in the same way he did for four seasons with the Oakland Raiders -- but that's not guaranteed.

Rather than looking at each position along the Packers' offensive line individually, break it into two sections, sans center Corey Linsley: David Bakthiari at left tackle with Lane Taylor at left guard, and Bryan Bulaga at right tackle with Justin McCray at right guard.

The Packers need a sense of flow for both sides to mesh with each other. More so McCray and Bulaga considering Bulaga is just getting back into game form after fully recovering from a torn ACL. It was believed he wouldn't even be available for week one.

"When you have the continuity, you can do as much as you feel comfortable doing," quarterback Aaron Rodgers told Packers.com after Wednesday's practice. "And thankfully, Lane [Taylor] has played really well the last couple years, and now him working with Dave [Bakhtiari], they really have a good continuity on the left side.

"But when those guys are healthy, we played a lot of football together. Especially with four of those five, so we’re able to do some more stuff than if you have some backups in there."

Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks is already licking his chops for another chance to go against the Packers' offensive line again, even despite drastically underperforming in both meetings a season ago.

"I know those five guys can't block Khalil Mack," Hicks told reporters during a conference call on Wednesday. 

Against a quarterback who has seen his fair share of snaps against the likes of Brian Urlacher, Julius Peppers and Jared Allen in that division, Mack just provides another test for Rodgers -- a little more added heat to a rejuvenated rivalry.

“Well, I’m back. I’m ready to roll," Rodgers said. "You guys saw me in training camp. You saw how I looked and the arm strength, I feel great. My body feels good, my weight is where I need it to be, so I’m ready to roll. Just trying to start every game this year, stay healthy, lead the right way and be effective—and not have any piss-poor games.”

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (51)

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Rak47's picture

September 06, 2018 at 05:37 am

Packers will be ready to roll come Sunday. Ready to skin some Bear!!!!!!!

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Rak47's picture

September 06, 2018 at 05:37 am

Packers will be ready to roll come Sunday. Ready to skin some Bear!!!!!!!

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The TKstinator's picture

September 06, 2018 at 05:41 am

“Those five guys can’t block Khalil Mack”
They don’t have to.
Bakhtiari can do it all by himself.

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EdsLaces's picture

September 06, 2018 at 05:58 am

Probably gonna be on Bulagas side though..

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The TKstinator's picture

September 06, 2018 at 06:23 am

He can do it too.

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4thand10's picture

September 06, 2018 at 10:43 am

"I know those five guys can't block Khalil Mack," Hicks told reporters during a conference call on Wednesday. “

The Bears have to account for Mercedes Lewis and Jimmy Graham. Oh, and that guy Rodgers.

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Bearmeat's picture

September 06, 2018 at 10:56 am

I think he can, although that's a bit more nervy for me. He and Lewis together though? Yeah. No problem.

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Charvid's picture

September 06, 2018 at 06:04 am

Put Lewis over there and it'll be fine...not sure Bulaga needs the help, but why not?

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Nick Perry's picture

September 06, 2018 at 06:52 am

My feelings exactly. Bulaga is just coming back but then again so is Mack...Sort of. There might be a snap or two Mack gets the better of Bulaga. Just line Lewis up next to him for a little extra chip at the line at least until Bulaga has his legs. Even if Mack was to get by Bulaga he still has to catch Rodgers which is a lot easier said than done. Just STAY healthy and they'll be fine.

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 06, 2018 at 07:22 am

Agreed,

Also, hopefully this is where we see the scheme change. Getting the ball out fast and hopefully creating a bit of confusion for the defense giving us open receivers.

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

September 06, 2018 at 08:17 am

A fast, short-passing attack would be swarmed and pummeled by a Bears defense holding no respect for our downfield speed. They'll be pressing relentlessly until we prove we can threaten them deep.

Short, quick passes = Suicide.

Somehow, we must buy enough time for Rodgers to let our WR/TE group get behind the Bears secondary.

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Oppy's picture

September 06, 2018 at 08:52 am

The most successful offense developed in the modern era of professional football was built on short, quick passes.

I've said this before, but a good recipe for a defense to allow Davante Adams to get behind them is trying to relentlessly to bump and run with him. If you get hands on him, he's physically strong enough to win the hand battle, but the thing is, you probably aren't going to get your hands on him to begin with. His get off is perhaps the best in the league. He is straight nasty off the line. Lots of broken ankles in his wake.

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Oppy's picture

September 06, 2018 at 08:56 am

With that being said.. Packers history with short, quick passes when Arod is under center is limited to the occasional game where they're slumping. You'll see Rodgers get the ball out on time in a decisive manner, they will get a drive down field to score, then it's right back to Rodgers rolling out of the pocket and spending 6 seconds looking for the deep ball.

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

September 06, 2018 at 09:05 am

And as I've said countless times--countless, countless, countless times--Davante Adams is the only Packers starter I wouldn't hard press on the line. I wouldn't play far off, but I'd give him a couple yards of space.

Countless times...

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Bearmeat's picture

September 06, 2018 at 10:56 am

How many times, again? ;)

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

September 06, 2018 at 11:04 am

Countless :)

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The TKstinator's picture

September 06, 2018 at 06:15 pm

With all due respect, even if you gave him a modest cushion, he’d still smoke you like a salmon.
He’s a highly successful NFL receiver, you know.
~~~~~

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Chuck Farley's picture

September 06, 2018 at 08:34 pm

What? We have down field speed? Who did we acquire today?

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

September 06, 2018 at 08:14 am

I wouldn't help Bulaga too much, since the whole Bears D is flush with passrushers.

I think Lewis is going to be busy all over the place.

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arthurl's picture

September 06, 2018 at 06:44 am

Mr Lewis is the safety net; he's a vet who knows what to do and has the skills to get job done. Very good addition in so many ways. I hope I see him on the field for most part especially with Bulaga just coming back from injury and having to deal with Mack, followed by Vikes D.

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dobber's picture

September 06, 2018 at 07:23 am

I think you're right: for someone like Bulaga, who has historically struggled with against speed, having that extra help will be a big deal as he returns from injury. I'll say it again: I think when we look back on 2018, we might find that the most important FA signing of the offseason was Mercedes Lewis. He might not catch more than about 35 passes, but I think he'll get 4-6 TDs and will be a key piece in keeping #12 upright and making the run game go.

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Cartwright's picture

September 06, 2018 at 11:26 am

Picking up Lewis was like getting a 2fer. Now that Mack has to be accounted for it was downright prescient.

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 06, 2018 at 07:36 am

I really think Lewis maybe the most important addition.

Graham's addition will be huge and will have a huge impact on the offense. But getting Lewis allows Graham to do what Graham does best.

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HankScorpio's picture

September 06, 2018 at 07:10 am

I'm ready to see how the CBs will be deployed. Gute had what appears to be a tremendous offseason in transforming the depth chart. I'm curious to see how things shake out on the field when all of them are healthy.

My guess is King & Williams outside with Alexander as the nickel and Jackson as the dime. House would be #5/depth. But Jackson sure has looked good in preseason so I would not be at all surprised to see him in the top 3.

Either way, I feel a whole lot better about the CB situation today than I did one year ago.

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Bearmeat's picture

September 06, 2018 at 10:59 am

Sorry, have to say it:

I can't read the word "tremendous" anymore without imagining a certain orange-tinged individual saying it via Twitter.... hahaha!

"Gute. Simply a tremendous GM. Really promising individual who does great, great work. And that's why he's there, folks. Believe me."

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

September 06, 2018 at 11:11 am

"This Gute builds great things. Like me. I'm very proud of myself, and Gute should be too. That Packers roster is gonna be YUGE! Anyone who disagrees is fake news, so get 'em oughtta here! I'm really smart, so I know these things."

:)

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Mojo's picture

September 06, 2018 at 01:16 pm

To Bearmeat - Gute's going to make the Packers great again.

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 06, 2018 at 07:18 am

Bears just got Khalil Mack. Big trade no question.
The Vikings went and got Kirk Cousins.
Big moves have been made this offseason. The teams in the North all feel like they have improved.

That all being said there has NOT been one move greater then going from Hundley to Rodgers at QB.

Rodgers is the best player in the NFL and at the most important position in the NFL.

Not only did they get Rodgers back which is the biggest move any team can make, they went out and added some very key pieces to the offense. Players that will make Rodgers life a little easier. Graham and Lewis I think were 2 huge moves that will really change and improve the offense. They give Rodgers something he really hasn't had in a while 2 HUGE targets.

“Well, I’m back. I’m ready to roll," Rodgers said.

https://media.giphy.com/media/yoJC2BlMMydcdBvgze/giphy.gif

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dobber's picture

September 06, 2018 at 07:29 am

I don't think we really know what this offense is going to look like this season. I don't put a huge amount of stock in the retooling of the playbook because, frankly, the guys who retooled it were the ones who wrote it in the first place and the key piece--#12--is still there and will be making all the adjustments on the field. Tigers don't change from stripes to polka dots over night.

I think the key will be the need for this offense to include the TE more than it has in recent years and to use the RBs even more in the passing game that it has. RRod caught 50+ passes just a couple years ago, but nobody ever saw him as a featured piece...he was an outlet guy. Unless one of the younger speedier WR is playing more, this is an offense that is going to need to use more stacks and rubs to get separation than it has in the past, and will need to spread the field horizontally. I think this is where the offense changes more than anything else. Ball-control passing game: #12 was already pretty good at it in 2016 and early 2017. I think it becomes even more apparent this season.

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freddisch's picture

September 06, 2018 at 07:35 am

Robber. Always enjoy your thoughtful comments

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freddisch's picture

September 06, 2018 at 07:36 am

Meant Dobber Vs Robber

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 06, 2018 at 07:55 am

The one change I think we see is a lot of 2 TE sets. For muliple reasons. First they no longer have the FB. Second they have never had 2 TE's the caliber of Graham and Lewis combined. Third the WR depth is really young overall.

As far as the retooled offense, just a few clues to that during the preseason. We saw the RB motioning out wide creating an empty backfield. I expect the RB's to get a lot more involved in the passing game.

I agree with you about using more stacks and rubs to create separation. We saw a little more used of stack WR's in the preseason, another sign they are going to use that look more.

The one player I'm really intrigued with in seeing how much they use him is MVS. His size and speed could really stretch the field. Does he see much time on the field early?

I'm excited for this offense.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

September 06, 2018 at 12:43 pm

I don't think GB can rely on pick and rub plays to get their WRs open. It worked in 2014 and created one of the most explosive offenses the NFL has ever seen. Since that time refs have been penalizing GB even when they're natural picks or runs within 5 yards of the LOS. Go back and watch tape on 2017 and there were needless penalties called quite a few times against GB for pick plays not penalized when run by other teams.

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HankScorpio's picture

September 06, 2018 at 07:32 am

"Graham and Lewis I think were 2 huge moves that will really change and improve the offense. They give Rodgers something he really hasn't had in a while 2 HUGE targets."

They also give the Packers the ability to diversify the formations. Gone are the days of a "base" 3 WR formation. They can mix in Allison and Lewis equally to give opposing defenses more to prepare for.

Not to mention that I think the Packer offense is at its most dynamic when they have a dangerous pass catcher at TE. If having Graham allows them to produce like they did with a healthy Cook and Finley in years past, things will be very good with the Packer offense.

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 06, 2018 at 08:02 am

Exactly right. Lewis being there allows them to move Graham around. He can play WR or TE. Gives them options in the run game and pass game.

I agree about the Packers offense being its best when they have had good TE's. They have stocked up the TE group this year having 3 veterans and 1 very promising young guy for that reason.

Many people didn't want Graham brought in based on what he did in Seattle. Problem with Seattle is that they didnt use him in ways that took advantage of his skillset. McCarthy knows how to take advantage of his skills. Graham will be a major upgrade at TE. Add Lewis to that, mix in Kendricks and our offense looks vastly different from previous years.

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HankScorpio's picture

September 06, 2018 at 08:17 am

I was a little leery about Graham based on his time in Seattle (and age). Still am, I suppose. I hope you're right that a change of scenery and being used properly is all he needs. No doubt that having Rodgers throw to him in GB is a far better situation that Wilson in Seattle.

I think which way he goes will go a long way toward telling the story of the Packer offense in 2018. If he's close to being the guy that was catching passes from Brees, things will be quite good. If not, it gets more dicey,

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Packmaniac's picture

September 06, 2018 at 08:51 am

I expect a couple of big gains for Lewis when he chips Mack and releases off the line while everyone assumes he’ll stay put to in-line block.

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4thand10's picture

September 06, 2018 at 10:48 am

Yep, one thing is for sure... Lewis and Graham can catch the rock. This Packer team might be capable of taking the top right off a defense.

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 06, 2018 at 03:40 pm

Hank, I get why most are hesitant of Graham. To me its more about the age then anything. I don't expect him to put up huge yardage. I expect him to help a ton on 3rd downs and in the redzone.
But with Rodgers and McCarthy they know how to get the ball to the TE.

I expect him to be a lot closer to the guy with Brees then the guy with Wilson.

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Handsback's picture

September 06, 2018 at 11:16 am

RC, right on that Rodgers over Hundley is the greatest improvement in the league. 2nd biggest improvement......Philbin and Pettine. I think by year's end they will be a very scary team in a good way for Green Bay.

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 06, 2018 at 04:00 pm

Yeah I agree. I'd also mix in there the switch to Gutekunst.

But as far as changes on the field the Philbin and Pettine changes really will make a big difference.

I completely agree that by the end of the year we will have a scary team.

Especially if some of these rookies really start emerging.
On offense if a guy like MVS becomes a deep threat that will really open up the defense.
And if our running game really shapes up look out!

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

September 06, 2018 at 08:24 am

Lacking cohesion and communication, all five Packers linemen will spend the first few downs trying to block Khalil Mack...

...who will be on the sidelines.

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croatpackfan's picture

September 06, 2018 at 08:39 am

It looks you'll be right!

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Graham Crackah's picture

September 06, 2018 at 09:09 am

What’s up with Josh Jones?! Didn’t hear/see anything about his injury...

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 06, 2018 at 09:19 am

Ankle injury.

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

September 06, 2018 at 11:12 am

The way things go with this roster, he's probably dead.

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Bert's picture

September 06, 2018 at 09:09 am

Mack is a very good player but geez. AR and the offense have faced very good players before and done just fine. I mean it's not like Mack made the Raiders D any good. The Bears do have some good players (Floyd, Smith, Lynch) besides Mack and if we focus too much on Mack it would be a mistake. IMHO.

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PackfanNY's picture

September 06, 2018 at 10:53 am

The Bears fans are funny. They want the Packers to worry about Khalil Mack. Sure he's a great player. BUT, there is only one player in this game who is 15-4, has thrown for 4,596 yards, thrown 42 TDs and 9 INT, rolling up to a passer rating of 107.2. All against the Bears. Until they prove they can stop that I'll quote Aaron Rodgers. Shhhhhhh!

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PAPackerbacker's picture

September 06, 2018 at 01:18 pm

Funny how the Bears say the Packers can't block Mack. But they won't admit they can't stop Rodgers :-) Look at that passer rating Rodgers has against the Bears. And by the way, I'm sure the Packers can handle Mack like they did with many other great LB's throughout the NFL. Sure he may get a sack or 2, and Rodgers will get a couple of touchdown passes or more too. I would guess the Packers D will get their share of sacks on Trubisky. I bet Rodgers handles the pass rush better than Trubisky.

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TXCHEESE's picture

September 06, 2018 at 03:40 pm

I don't expect this game to be a cake walk, but if GB can get a couple turn overs early on, I would expect a comfortable margin of victory. Mojo's post said it best. The Bears nor the Raiders were world beaters last year. Mack is a formidable defender, but the Packers actually caught a little bit of a break, that he is just recently signed and had no training camp. He may pull a hammy right out of the gate, the way so many training camp holdouts do when they first get live game action.

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Chuck Farley's picture

September 06, 2018 at 08:27 pm

Facts: jordy bailed him out often, getting open going deep.
Fact he has played behind a decent o line for years.
Fact: he had an ok defense and running game.
Fact: he played six games a year against div rivals whose weren't that great.
Fact: div rivals have built strong d's to stop him.
Fact: his receivers are not proven.

Bottom line, could be turning point year for him. His star may fade?

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