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Packers' Rodgers thinks being 'mentally sharp' combats layoff

  • By Associated Press
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The next time Aaron Rodgers steps under center, it will have been 20 days since he last played for the Green Bay Packers.

Rodgers sat out the regular-season finale against Detroit, and Green Bay gets a bye in this weekend's wild-card round after earning the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The Packers will host a divisional round game Jan. 15.

For Rodgers, the opportunity to rest outweighs everything else.

"I'm not too worried about rust or anything," Rodgers said Thursday. "It's not that big of a deal, I don't think. You take some time off in the preseason, you don't play a lot in the first game or the fourth game, so there's breaks in there. You just have to stay mentally sharp. I think that's the most important thing. You want to stay up on your conditioning. So make sure I do that, got to take a lot of (practice) reps the last couple days so I feel good about where I'm at. I'm not worried about getting back out there."

Coach Mike McCarthy found a way to help Rodgers stay mentally sharp during the season-ending 45-41 victory over Detroit. With backup Matt Flynn starting in Rodgers' place, McCarthy had Rodgers call some plays.

"It's nerve-racking," Rodgers said. "It's a lot more nerve-racking than playing, to be honest. Matt can attest to that. I was a little bit nervous in the locker room knowing that I was probably going to get a chance to get some calls in there. But when you've got a quarterback that's in the zone and hot, it makes it a whole lot easier."

Off from Thursday to Monday, Rogers wants his team to rediscover the sense of urgency that carried them to last year's Super Bowl title -- even if their situation is far different this year as a No. 1 seed and Super Bowl favorite.

"I think the way we handle it will kind of be demonstrated by how we handle this weekend," Rodgers said. "Everybody's going to do different things to get away, refresh mentally and physically, but I think as professionals we need to make sure we come back on Monday with that extra sense of urgency. That's kind of what separated us last year."

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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