The Associated Press News Service
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -Sure, Aaron Rodgers would rather start opposite Tony Romo in Thursday night's big game at Dallas.
Instead, he has to settle for doing his best Romo impression for the Green Bay Packers in practice this week.
And no, playing the role of Romo in practice hasn't earned Rodgers any of the real-world benefits that the Cowboys' rising star seems to enjoy. No calls from pop singers, actresses or supermodels.
"Not yet," Rodgers said. "I'm waiting."
Rodgers runs the Packers' scout team in practice, simulating their upcoming opponent's quarterback to get the defense ready to play. Because of his scrambling ability, it turns out Rodgers does a pretty good Romo.
"I'm trying to get out of the pocket, because they said to get out of the pocket and throw the ball a little bit," Rodgers said. "I haven't perfected the no-look pass yet that he did against the Giants, I think. I'm working on that."
A first-round pick in 2005, Rodgers doesn't hide the fact he would rather play on Sundays at this point in his career.
And who could blame him?
The man he backs up, Brett Favre, has started a quarterback-record 248 games - 268, including the playoffs.
Instead of sulking on the sidelines, Rodgers has embraced the important but underappreciated role of running the scout team.
"It's my opportunity to play during the week, because No. 4 usually doesn't come out of the game unless we're ahead by a lot," Rodgers said.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy praised Rodgers for his hard work.
"I couldn't be more pleased with Aaron Rodgers," McCarthy said. "He gives you a full day of work every single day. He's really maturing in the classroom. He's a talented young man. I think he's going to be a fine quarterback."
Packers linebacker Nick Barnett said Rodgers' work in practice helps the defense.
"He's doing a good job, running around and trying to make plays, emphasizing that," Barnett said. "Because a lot of times, Tony gets out of that pocket and you've got to lock onto your guy and still play him close because he will try to make a play on it."
But Rodgers is happiest when defensive players get mad at him.
"They get mad if I'm running too much, or usually if I'm holding the ball too long," Rodgers said. "They just say, 'Throw the ball.' Because if nothing's open, I'm going to run. I'm going to get my workout in practice. They don't like that too much. They also say I throw too hard."
Rodgers also considers it his duty to help backups and practice-squad players get better.
"I tell the guys when they come in, I say, 'Hey, give me all you've got, and I'm going to do my best to get you activated to the active roster,"' Rodgers said.
Is that enough to stay satisfied?
"It's going to have to be enough," Rodgers said.
Rodgers made a noticeable leap forward in the preseason, earning rave reviews from coaches for his play. When the games started to count, of course, he was sent back to the sidelines.
He did throw two passes in the Packers' blowout victory over Minnesota earlier this month, only his sixth appearance in a regular season game in three years.
Still, Rodgers remains optimistic about his development.
He thanks the Packers for keeping only two quarterbacks, he and Favre, on their roster this year, because it means he gets to take more snaps in practice.
"People are going to judge my improvement and maturation when I'm in a live game situation, but I feel like every rep I'm taking in practice, I'm really just working on different things every day, just trying to be aware of the things I need to improve on," he said. Most guys don't watch the scout team film, but I do."
Meanwhile, Packers quarterback coach Tom Clements has assigned Rodgers to do his own scouting report on each Packers opponent to keep him involved in the team's offensive planning.
"That's just kept me involved," Rodgers said. "I can make comments here and there, and I know, because I've seen the plays two or three times over. Just being in my third year, I have a little bit more of a voice, I'm a little more comfortable saying things here and there to the guys. So that's just what I'm doing, trying to be prepared."
Although it sometimes doesn't seem like it, there will come a day when Favre steps away from the game. The Packers still plan on having Rodgers succeed him.
For now, Rodgers said life could be worse.
"It's very satisfying being on a team where I'm not playing and we're 10-1," Rodgers said.