Why keep three running backs when you can have Amari Rodgers play a Wide Receiver/Running Back hybrid role? These were definitely the words coming out after the Green Bay Packers third Preseason game vs the Kansas City Chiefs. With good reason too. Rodgers was expected to be a Swiss Army Knife of sorts after his performance in the final preseason matchup. He had four catches, took two handoffs out of the shotgun, and also took a jet sweep from Jordan Love. When the Packers only kept two Running Backs in Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, it appeared those words were right. Until Sunday came.
Zero Offensive Snaps
In the Packers dismal performance against the Minnesota Vikings in the season opener, Amari Rodgers was nowhere to be found on Offense. After being on the field to receive a Punt or Kick Return, Rodgers would return to the sidelines, and there he would stay until another return was needed. Rookies Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs both logged 40 snaps, and 35 snaps on Offense respectively. Even Juwann Winfree elevated from the practice squad for the game logged 9 snaps on offense. But Amari Rodgers? Nothing, nada, not even in garbage time with Jordan Love taking the helm in the final minutes. In fact, Watson and Doubs were often shown in the presumable Rodgers role with some gadget plays.
“Yeah, he’s returning for us right now”
Amari Rodgers’ absence, of course, did not go unnoticed. When prompted about Amari Rodgers’ role in the offense on Wednesday, Aaron Rodgers simply stated “Yeah, he’s returning for us right now,” and after a short pause, ended it with “That’s all I got on that.” Ouch. Not exactly what you want your four-time MVP Quarterback saying about you.
So, what’s going on? Amari Rodgers’ versatility was showcased in the last preseason game. The predictions that his presence would cause the Packers to only keep two running backs came true. So, what happened? If it were nothing to worry about, you’d assume Aaron Rodgers would simply respond that maybe they needed to get Amari involved more. Or perhaps that they have a place for him, but it just hasn’t been the time yet.
Could it be a smokescreen?
There have been a few occasions where a trick play or a special personnel package has been unleashed later in the season. Coaches or Players usually respond that they were saving it for later. Or they just weren’t in a situation yet where it was needed. I don’t really see Matt LaFleur playing this game. Lining up a Wide Receiver in the backfield isn’t exactly innovative anymore. And after showing it in preseason, you have to think teams are already tipped off. While I’d like to be optimistic that there’s nothing going on, I’m afraid those thoughts might be wrong. There was no reason to hold anything back on Sunday.
So, what’s going on?
Obviously, whatever is up, the Packers are keeping it within the confines of 1265 Lombardi Ave. Perhaps Amari Rodgers just still isn’t ready for a prominent role in the offense. Outside the Preseason Game 3 feature, Amari Rodgers wasn’t really bragged about in Training Camp. There was a lot of talk about him getting leaner in preparation for this season, but that’s it. We all know Aaron Rodgers is very critical of his receivers, and it appears Amari Rodgers still hasn’t gained any favor.
When approached on the subject, Amari Rodgers stated, “That’s just the truth, I haven’t earned his trust.” Rodgers then expanded on that it is a 17-game season and he needs to focus on his flaws and work on them. So, it seems there are no hard feelings for Rodgers, and hopefully he can turn it around.
When Amari Rodgers was drafted, and Randall Cobb, a big-brother role model figure to Rodgers, was brought back, I thought, what a great situation. What a great way for Rodgers to learn and get acquainted with Aaron Rodgers. Seems like maybe a little more time though, is needed.
There’s not much we can say until we hear more on the situation though. This writer, however, is rooting for Amari Rodgers to have a breakout season. Hopefully, whatever might be going on, they can get it corrected and allow who I believe to be a dynamic football player, to shine.
Until next time, let’s go bring home that W against the Bears. Go Pack Go.
Greg Meinholz is a 24/7/365 Packers fan. When he’s not spending time with his family, he can be found meditating in his Packers shrine with a good beer. You can follow him on twitter at @gmeinholz.