Details about Aaron Rodgers’ leg injury, sustained before a national TV audience in the Green Bay Packers’ season opener, were limited only to what your eyes told you about the massive knee brace he wore for much of the season.
The NFL’s new year is underway, though, and now Rodgers has opened up about the severity of the knee injury that caused him to be carted off the field, only to return to lead the Packers to a victory, and a second injury, a scary concussion he sustained in Green Bay’s season finale.
For the first half of the Packers’ season opener, it looked as if Rodgers’ season might be ending extremely prematurely. He left the field on a cart, only to return in the second half and lead the Packers’ rally from a 20-0 deficit for a victory. He had sustained a “very painful” tibial plateau fracture and a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee when he was sacked as the Chicago Bears’ Khalil Mack collapsed the pocket. A tibial plateau fracture is a break in the upper part of the shinbone, next to the knee, and this injury was to the same knee in which he had torn the ACL while in high school, undergoing surgery to repair it while he was in college. He also had arthroscopic surgery on the same knee after the 2015 season.
“If you watch the hit back, just my two bones that come together on the outside just kind of made an indent fracture. Very painful,” Rodgers said in an interview with ESPN Wisconsin’s “Wilde and Tausch” show. “The good thing was it’s not super load-bearing every single time. But there’s definitely some movements and things you do naturally that affected it.
“The MCL was frustrating as well because it did start to get better and then Christian Jones tackled me on the sideline in Detroit early in the [Week 5] game and it basically reset the whole thing. After the first quarter of the first game, I really wasn’t 100 percent the entire year. That’s not an excuse for the way I played or didn’t play, but it limited my mobility for a good part of the season.”
That much was evident. It also restricted Rodgers in practice, with treatments cutting into the time he could work with receivers. He chose not to have surgery, instead getting “a series of shots in the offseason, which I’ve done before.” The Packers’ offseason workouts began Monday, and Rodgers said the knee wasn’t an issue.
“Especially as an older player, it’s great. I feel great. My legs feel good. My feet feel good,” Rodgers said. “It would be nice to be a little healthier from the start. It’s something you can’t avoid, but I’ve made some changes to my offseason training regimen and approach and the kind of team that I have around me, which I think is going to help.”
After appearing in only seven games in the 2017 season because of a broken collarbone, Rodgers managed to start all 16 games last season, although he quickly left the finale on Dec. 30 when he sustained a concussion on the first offensive series. It marked the first time he’d taken himself out of a game, and he was taken by ambulance to a hospital for a quick exam.
“Getting that concussion was disappointing and also a little scary, honestly, especially the older you get,” Rodgers said. “… I couldn’t see. I lost vision. Definitely peripheral [vision]. I got hit and I came to the sidelines and I was sitting on the bench and I went back out there and by that third series, the normal 180-[degree] plus peripheral [vision had] shrunk – to like blinders.”
Rodgers’ helmet went flying on the sack by Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis, but he stayed in the game for the rest of the series and played two more.
“I didn’t have any lingering effects. I was talking with our docs and I felt like I would have been cleared, actually, that next week.” he said. “… I had zero recurring issues.”