LORI NICKEL said:
Jan. 5, 2007
Green Bay - No one is more eager than Aaron Rodgers to hear whether Brett Favre will return or retire.
The second-year backup quarterback has big plans for the off-season in case Favre does walk away.
Rodgers is going to get the boot removed from his broken left foot two weeks from today. He'll then start working with a personal trainer back home in Chico, Calif. And he's going to get serious about his nutrition.
That way, if Favre does retire, Rodgers, who just turned 23 years old, will come back to Packers quarterback school in March in the best shape possible, prepared to assume his place under center for 2007.
If Favre comes back, well, Rodgers has waited before. He can wait again.
"It's his decision, and he deserves to take as much time as possible," Rodgers said New Year's Day, when the Packers packed up their lockers. "As much as you're anxious to know what he's going to do, I don't worry about it. I don't lose sleep over it at all. I just worry about what I can take care of, and that's getting healthy, taking care of my body, eating right and prepare myself mentally.
"I can't do anything about (the waiting), you know? It's like sitting in that green room (on draft day); I couldn't do anything about dropping, dropping, dropping. I just knew in the end I would be in a good spot."
Right now, that would be just about anywhere other than airport security scanners. That's a pain. He sets off alarms.
"They pat me down real good," he said.
Rodgers had a screw placed in the fifth metatarsal bone of his broken left foot. He injured it on Nov. 19, while filling in for Favre, who left the game in the first half with an injured elbow.
Against the Patriots, Rodgers looked ineffective, completing four of 12 passes for 32 yards. It was learned later that Rodgers hurt the foot early in the third quarter. Rodgers was placed on injured reserve two days later.
His goal is participate in quarterback school, scheduled for late March in Green Bay, and do at least some work in the minicamps after the draft. That's his chance to get work in even if Favre is back.
"Even if he does come back, I think his involvement in the quarterback school is going to be limited, so it's going to be the same situation for me," Rodgers said.
So, then, in the next 2½ months, the 6-foot-2, 223-pound Rodgers is going to try to cut out the sweets and get Coach Mike McCarthy off his back.
The Packers have something called a BOD POD, this Austin Powers egg chair-looking type thing, and a "skinny machine," as Rodgers calls it, that measures a player's body fat.
"Mike always hounds me about my weight, my body fat," Rodgers said. "All the quarterbacks he's ever been around have always been around 8% body fat, and I'm about 10. So I want to get down to about 8%. At least.
"Remember (quarterback) Tom Arth? He was 5.6%, which is incredible. Al (Harris) is, like, 3, I think."
A more fit Rodgers could outrun would-be tacklers. He could definitely take a page from Favre's book there; Favre avoids more than his share of sacks, and his 257-game starting streak is still alive.
Rodgers said he would come up with a better eating plan and would work out with other NFL players he knows in the Bay Area as soon as the foot permits, a strategy that impressed both outgoing offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski and encouraged quarterbacks coach Tom Clements.
"The other thing that is tough is I am not doing the cardio right now," Rodgers said. "I'm doing some pool stuff, but not being on the field running around all the time. . . . I've been working out really hard upper body-wise, so my upper body, I've lost a lot of fat in my upper body. But my legs, because of the atrophy that has settled in a little bit, I've put some fat on my legs because I haven't been able to do cardio."
A lot of people assume that Rodgers is in the unenviable position of following Favre. But Rodgers isn't wary of his future in Green Bay.
"It'll be exciting when it happens," Rodgers said. "There's always pressure. There's always expectations, but I put real high expectations on myself as a player.
"I am still one play away from getting into the game, and that's the way I approach it."
Rodgers said the things Favre taught him were how to be a good teammate, how to practice and how to be a pro. Although they might not be kindred spirits, they developed a working partnership.
"I think he really watched me in practice, seeing my work ethic, and then seeing how much I supported him; genuinely supported him, always was encouraging him and stuff," Rodgers said. "Really, just doing what a backup should be doing, support the starter, putting in a ton of work, doing all that I can to get him the most information during the games and pushing him to raise his level. I think a mutual respect grew into the friendship we have right now.
"Obviously I want to play, I want to show what I can do out there. But you've just to be patient. Things happen in time for a reason. He's been the face of this franchise for so long now, he deserves the opportunity to finish out his career the way he wants to. Be it (against Chicago) or one more season or two more seasons. It's out of my control and out of my hands. When my time does come, I will be given the opportunity to perform and I'm going to need to perform."