Patriots

Aaron Rodgers suffers broken collarbone, may miss remainder of season

Aaron Rodgers suffers broken collarbone, may miss remainder of season

MINNEAPOLIS -- Walking gingerly to the sideline with his throwing shoulder throbbing in pain, Aaron Rodgers turned back toward the field and barked at Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr.

Rodgers likely already knew that his season was in jeopardy after Barr's hit broke his collarbone, and the fiery quarterback's frustration boiled over.

Now the Green Bay Packers have to try to make sure their season as a whole doesn't go down the drain with it.

Rodgers was knocked out of the 23-10 loss to the Vikings in the first quarter on Sunday with an injury that could cause him to miss the remainder of the season .

It's a crushing blow to a team that entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations, optimism based primarily on the right arm of one of the game's best quarterbacks.

"It's devastating," receiver Randall Cobb said. "No question about it. First and foremost, that is one of my closest friends, so to see him go down with that is tough. We still have to play football. We have a long season ahead of us to figure out what we are going to do."

Brett Hundley, the only other quarterback on the roster outside of practice squad player Joe Callahan, was rushed into duty. He finished 18 of 33 for 157 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.

"Losing Aaron Rodgers speaks for itself," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "In my opinion, he's the best player in football. This is the ultimate team game. We need to be better with the 11 people on the field that we have, regardless of the phase that we're in. Ultimately that's my responsibility."

Colin Kaepernick, who has had difficulty finding a job since becoming the face of league-wide demonstrations during the national anthem that protest social injustice, and Tony Romo, who joined CBS as an analyst after retiring from the Dallas Cowboys, could be outside options to fill in for Rodgers. But McCarthy said after the game he was not considering anything like that yet.

"Brett Hundley and Joe Callahan, that's what we're going with," he said.

Despite several key injuries to the secondary, the Packers entered the game Sunday against their NFC North rivals at 4-1 after Rodgers engineered a game-winning touchdown drive to beat the Dallas Cowboys last week.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer's defense has always gotten after Rodgers in these tense matchups, and it happened again in the first quarter when Barr drove him into the turf after he got rid of a roll-out pass.

The impact did not appear to be that violent at first glance as Rodgers rolled through the hit. But it became apparent quickly that he was in considerable pain. He writhed on the turf as McCarthy argued for a roughing the passer penalty.

"I know Anthony Barr personally," said Hundley, a fellow UCLA alum. "I wouldn't imagine he's a dirty player. I didn't really get a good look at it."

Rodgers rode a cart to the locker room for further tests and remained there throughout the first half. He was initially deemed questionable, but the Packers announced after halftime that he would not return to the game.

"He's the best in the game so I hate to see that for him," Vikings safety Harrison Smith said.

Since becoming the full-time starter in 2008, Rodgers has been remarkably durable. He missed seven games in 2013 with a fractured collarbone, but he has started 132 of the other 134 games during that time period.

Of course, being able to count on a quarterback to take the snaps is nothing new for Green Bay. Since Brett Favre took over for the injured Don Majkowski in the third game of the 1992 season, the Packers have had Favre and Rodgers for all but nine games.

Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien and Seneca Wallace were forced to fill in while Rodgers was out in 2013 and the Packers went 2-4-1 in that stretch. Flynn started once in 2010 when Rodgers sat out with a concussion and again in 2011 when he rested during the regular-season finale with the Packers having clinched the top seed in the NFC playoffs.

Favre never sat at all.

Hundley had only thrown 11 passes over the course of his first two-plus seasons in the league before jumping in on Sunday.

"I hope (at)AaronRodgers12 is OK!" Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman tweeted. "The league is better when he's healthy. Praying for you."

Speed to burn: Cooks, Brady team up to form most productive deep-ball combo

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Speed to burn: Cooks, Brady team up to form most productive deep-ball combo

The first came in the second quarter, when Brandin Cooks turned on afterburners to beat a Raiders double team and glide underneath a Tom Brady heave for 52 yards. The second came in the third quarter, on the third play from scrimmage of the second half, when Cooks faked an out-route, jetted past rookie corner Obi Melifonwu, and sped into the end zone to make the score 24-0. 

Both deep completions in New England's 33-8 win over Oakland just added to cumulative effect that Cooks has had on the Patriots offense since arriving before the season to become their top deep threat. 

Paired with Brady, Cooks has actually become the most productive deep threat in the NFL. 

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According to Pro Football Focus, Cooks leads all receivers with 431 yards on deep passes (throws that travel 20 yards or more down the field). In second place is Houston's DeAndre Hopkins with 313 yards. 

And Brady, who has long been more effective in the short-to-intermediate range than he has been deep, is now among the league leaders in creating explosive plays from the quarterback position. The Patriots are third in the NFL with 41 pass plays of 20 yards or more, and they are tied for second with nine plays of 40 yards or more. 

"You're always trying to work on that," Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show of his team's deep passing game. "It's not one particular year [you work on it]. I think that's been a concerted effort by our entire offense, trying to make more explosive plays in the pass game. 

"Sometimes your offense is built differently. We actually have some guys now that can really get down the field so that becomes more of a point of emphasis. The way Brandin runs, the way that Chris Hogan runs, the way that Phillip Dorsett runs, they're very fast. You need to be able to take advantage of their skill set . . . 

"When we had David Patten we were throwing it deep. I mean, but David Patten didn't run a lot of short routes. I would say Brandin Cooks, in general, he doesn't run a lot of short routes. Everyone has a different role. If we can get by you, I think that's a good place to throw the ball. if we can't, we gotta figure out ways to throw it underneath and different weeks are going to call for different things based on the strengths of the defenses we're playing, too."

A week before beating the Raiders, against the Broncos and their talented corners, the Patriots had less luck pushing the ball down the field -- though they tried to hit Cooks deep multiple times. In Mexico City, Cooks matched up with a weaker secondary, and he wasn't at all slowed by the altitude, catching six passes in all for 149 yards and a score. 

Per PFF, Cooks has seen almost one third of his targets (30 percent) come on deep passes, which is the ninth-highest rate in the league. He's caught all 11 of his catchable deep passes, three of them accounting for scores.

"Obviously when you're throwing the ball 50-60 yards down the field," Brady said, "your chances of completion go down, but if you hit it, it ends up being a very explosive plays and you can change a lot of field position and get a defense really on their heels if they have to defend every blade of grass on the field." 

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Belichick remembers Glenn: 'A good person with good intentions'

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Belichick remembers Glenn: 'A good person with good intentions'

Terry Glenn, the Patriots' top draft pick in 1996, died early Monday morning in a one-car accident in Irving, Texas. He was 43. 

Bill Belichick coached Glenn as an assistant with the Patriots during Glenn's rookie season. He was later Glenn's head coach in 2000 and 2001. Belichick traded Glenn to the Packers before the 2002 season after a tumultuous run in New England that involved legal trouble, injuries and clashes with the coaching staff.

During a conference call with reporters soon after the news of Glenn's death was published, Belichick remembered Glenn for his natural physical ability and "a good heart."

"I was pretty close with Terry," Belichick said, "and his rookie season was my first year here in '96, and so I had a lot of interaction with him and other people that were involved in his life and his upbringing separate from the Patriots. Terry's a very smart individual. Had a lot of, obviously, a lot of physical skill and talent. Could do a lot of things on the football field very naturally. And I think he was deep down inside a good person with good intentions and, you know, a good heart. Obviously it's very unfortunate. Very unfortunate passing. I mean, it's a sad day. Sad news."

According to reports, Glenn was with his fiancee at the time of the accident. She's being treated at a local hospital for unspecified injuries.