Aaron Rodgers didn't just finish the Green Bay Packers season with the best final standings (14-2) in franchise history, but he also set new NFL records. Rodgers carried his team on his back, becoming the first player to ever throw for 5,000 yards in a season and break all of the quarterback's single-season passing records. He passed for 45 touchdowns and was named MVP of both the regular season and playoffs.
After missing four games due to injury this season, Rodgers was finally able to return home to play against the Baltimore Ravens in an NFC Championship game after beating two other teams that are considered Super Bowl contenders over their last couple weeks of play: Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints.
Rodgers is just as good as ever and will continue to be the face of Green Bay Packers franchise. He's one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and can take them to another Super Bowl this season. That is what he sets out to do, and it seems like he has accomplished it since he is back on the field with his teammates practicing again.
"I'm really excited about it," Rodgers told ESPN Wisconsin's Jason Wilde after he was back on the practice field with his teammates. "It was a long rehab process but I feel great now. I'm anxiously looking forward to getting back out here and getting started. Obviously, my goal is trying to get us in that Super Bowl and win our division again. We've got a lot to play for."
With his return, the Green Bay Packers are heading in the right direction. They want to regain their dominance in the NFC. They want to be able to make another run at the Super Bowl. Rodgers is just as excited as everyone else is getting back on the field with his teammates and starting practice again, but he's not just looking forward all of that. He's also looking forward to taking on his own team.
"It's great being out here," Rodgers said after a recent training camp practice with ESPN Wisconsin's Jason Wilde. "I love being out here with the guys. Obviously, I have to be here and be active against our defense if I want to get my timing and things like that, but it's fun being out here."
The difficult thing is that this was a really tough season for the Packers. The quarterback played through a torn left calf muscle before suffering two broken collarbones in seven games. When he was forced to sit out another six games, the team struggled without him. They went 3-4-1 over those games while he was injured and they lost their spot in the NFC North division race to the Minnesota Vikings who finished with a tiebreaker record of 10-6 versus Green Bay's 8-7-1 finish.
But the road to recovery didn't just get Aaron Rodgers back on the field, it helped him become a better passer to his teammates. That's one of the biggest reasons why Rodgers has been so successful. He not only shows up at practice, but he spends a lot of time with them outside as well. He helps them out for extra training after practice and even during practice.
Rodgers shows a lot of support for his teammates. During games, he's usually talking to them on the sidelines or in between plays and that gives him a good bond with his receivers and running backs. He knows each of their skill sets. He knows what they like on the field. He's able to communicate that to them and that helps him become a better quarterback.
Rodgers is going into his ninth season with the Green Bay Packers, and he has already led them to a Super Bowl win in 2010 when they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25. Since then, Rodgers has become one of the most dominant quarterbacks in the NFL. His return comes at a perfect time as he will look to lead them past the Atlanta Falcons for another Super Bowl appearance this upcoming February 2016.
"I hope this is a good time for me to get back on the field," Rodgers said. "It's an exciting time. We're playing really good football. A lot of guys have played a lot of games in these last few years and have weathered a lot of storms, so hopefully I'll come in and fit in with that group."
Rodgers is just as excited as anyone else is looking forward to making another run at the Super Bowl, but if the Green Bay Packers want to go there, they are going to have to get by Atlanta Falcons first. The Falcons are leading their division right now with impressive wins over Tennessee Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks earlier in the season.
The Packers beat the Falcons 35-31 in overtime back in Week 1. They will take on them again on Sunday night this upcoming October 2015. Rodgers took a lot of hits that game and played through some pain. It didn't show on the field, but he was a bit worried about it for the NFC Championship game against the Seattle Seahawks.
"I had my fingers crossed that I wasn't going to get hit too much," Rodgers said. "I knew the only way we were going to win that game was if I was upright and throwing it. I didn't want to get hit at all in that game."
The Falcons defense is going to have their hands full with Rodgers on Saturday. They are going to have a hard time stopping him without Rodgers being able to go through the entire practice to figure out everything the Falcons defense is doing. In the NFC Championship game, they kept the Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch from getting many big plays and limiting him from moving up and down the field.
If the Atlanta Falcons want to stop Rodgers, they are going to have to do it by not allowing him much time on his receivers. They are going to have to get after him early and often. He's going to throw it. He's going to deliver a lot of passes during the game, but they can't let him deliver the ball all over the field while they try and play keep away with a good team like Green Bay Packers.
"Getting back out is just one step in a process," Rodgers said. "We have some health issues on our offensive line that we've got to get solved and get fixed, but I felt like if we had been healthy all year last year, I really like our chances.