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Frank Cignetti Jr. has never worked with Aaron Rodgers, but with all his connections to the Green Bay Packers and their offense, the team’s new quarterbacks coach probably feels like he has.

The longtime assistant spent the past two seasons coaching the New York Giants’ quarterbacks under Ben McAdoo, the former Packers assistant who coached Rodgers in 2012 and 2013. McAdoo’s version of the West coast offense was rooted in Packers coach Mike McCarthy’s system.

Cignetti, 52, goes even further back with McCarthy than McAdoo, who served under the Packers coach from 2006 until he left for the Giants in 2014. They were graduate assistants together in 1989 at the University of Pittsburgh and were reunited in New Orleans, where Cignetti coached quarterbacks in 2000 and 2001 in an offense that McCarthy coordinated.

It doesn’t matter, however, how familiar Cignetti is with the offense that Rodgers runs if he and the quarterback don’t hit it off. And after the way Rodgers reacted to losing his last position coach, Alex Van Pelt, who parted ways with the Packers last month, that might be more difficult than first thought. Rodgers said last week on ESPN Radio’s Golic and Wingo show that he “thought that was an interesting change, really without consulting me. There’s a close connection between quarterback and quarterback coach, and that was an interesting decision.”

Van Pelt was the only one of Rodgers’ first four quarterback coaches who played in the NFL. That was something Rodgers was vocal about wanting after Tom Clements was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2012, but instead McCarthy hired McAdoo for that job. Van Pelt, a nine-year NFL veteran, mostly as a backup quarterback for the Bills, replaced McAdoo and formed a bond with Rodgers.

Cignetti’s work with Rodgers won’t begin until the offseason program starts in April, but it will be an important spring and summer for the 34-year-old quarterback.

“I don’t think it’s difficult at all,” Cignetti said last month of coaching Rodgers. “Because one, coaching’s teaching. And getting in that quarterback classroom, you build a relationship and you understand that, hey, we’re an extension of each other. And it’s so exciting to go out on that field whether it’s the practice field or game field and see these guys execute and make plays, I’m really looking forward to it.”

The corps of coaches around Rodgers has been overhauled. Joe Philbin has returned as offensive coordinator, a move that should make Rodgers happy considering how productive the offense was during his previous stint in that job, which included Rodgers’ first MVP season of 2011. In addition to Cignetti and Philbin, new assistant Jim Hostler, with the title of pass-game coordinator, will work closely with the quarterbacks and the receivers — even if it’s not yet exactly clear how the revamped coaching staff will work.

“My vision of it is really how Mike wants me to fit in to helping him put the game plan together, helping him coordinate the perimeter,” Hostler said. “Those are thoughts that I have that we have sort of thrown around. But how that all fits with Joe and all that will be done through the process. I think what Mike was interested in when he looked at me in this capacity was, one, I’ve coached the quarterbacks for him; two, I’ve been in the system with him although systems change and evolve; three, I think he understands that I’ve coached in other rooms, I’ve been in every room, I’ve coordinated. So those are things that will help me to do whatever they need me to do to help them.”

Like Cignetti, Hostler has previous experience with McCarthy. He was the quarterback coach in San Francisco in 2005, when McCarthy was the 49ers offensive coordinator.

Although the offense has evolved since then, the core of it remains intact.

“Very similar,” Cignetti said. “I look back when we were together in 2000 in New Orleans, the foundation of the system is in place from back in 2000. Now, through time, things change. So the last two years in New York, a lot of it was similar to what we’re doing here, but both sides also grow and change. Very familiar.”

Before he left, Van Pelt said he expected a big year in 2018 from Rodgers after the lost season this past year because of the broken collarbone. The last time Rodgers broke his collarbone (in 2013), he came back the next season to win his second MVP.

The task of helping Rodgers do that again now belongs to Cignetti.

“I love to coach,” he said, “and I believe part of being a successful coach is building trust and relationships.”

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Here’s how one highly placed source at Lambeau Field handicapped the Green Bay Packers’ general manager race: “John Schneider would be a grand slam, but Brian Gutekunst would be a home run.”

Short of luring Schneider out of Seattle, the hiring of Gutekunst, the team’s director of player personnel since 2016, might have been the best-case scenario to both keep continuity and rebuild the Packers after a drop-off in the talent level that was exposed this season when Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone.

The Packers are expected to introduce the 44-year-old Gutekunst as their new GM on Monday. The Packers announced Tuesday that Ted Thompson would no longer be in charge of the team’s personnel department but would remain senior adviser to football operations.

Among internal candidates, Gutekunst offered the best combination of scouting experience — both on the pro and college side — and people skills. This should offer coach Mike McCarthy the kind of pairing he’s looking for: a partner in roster building and the front-facing parts of the job.

Both Eliot Wolf and Russ Ball — the other two in-house candidates considered by team president Mark Murphy — came with plenty of upside as well. At age 35, Wolf is viewed as a dynamo in the area of pro scouting. The 58-year-old Ball, meanwhile, is masterful contract negotiator and salary-cap manager. When have the Packers entered into a bad contract or been in salary-cap hell since Ball took over in 2008?

The Packers risk losing Wolf, most likely to Cleveland, where former Green Bay scout John Dorsey already hired Alonzo Highsmith away from the Packers and would love the chance to bring on Wolf.

But if Ball can work under Gutekunst, the Packers want him to continue to manage their player-finance area. A raise and a promotion in title might do the trick because unlike Wolf, Ball probably wouldn’t have as many options to become a GM down the road.

The internal reluctance to hire Ball was rooted in the idea that he would be a continuation of the Ted Thompson way, i.e., largely ignoring free agency and relying heavily on the draft. In fact, Ball has had a large role in the Packers’ roster-building efforts the past two seasons as Thompson, 64, aged and cut back his schedule. It’s believed that Ball actually made the call on whether to re-sign free agents Julius Peppers and Micah Hyde last offseason.

Murphy said last week that the new general manager will be free to build the roster any way he sees fit, and that includes a more aggressive approach to free agency. Yes, Gutekunst worked under Thompson, so he’s likely to share some of the same views, but he’s expected to be more aggressive with veteran players.

Gutekunst also should be a more forward-facing leader of the personnel department. As Murphy joked last week, it would be hard to imagine the next GM being less visible and less accessible than Thompson, who left McCarthy to always have to answer in-season questions about roster moves.

For example, it was McCarthy who in 2008 had to be the main spokesman during the Brett Favre saga. In more recent times, it was McCarthy who had to answer for why the Packers surprisingly cut Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton right before the 2016 season opener or the Martellus Bennett situation this past season.

Issues remain after Gutekunst’s promotion. For one, where does it leave the Packers’ relationship with the Wolfs? Yes, Eliot is young enough and has plenty of time to find a GM job, although unless he’s willing to wait years, it won’t be with the Packers. And although former GM Ron Wolf hired Gutekunst, he hoped his son would someday hold his old job.

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Bring back Aaron Rodgers. This season can still be saved.

Miraculously. Unexpectedly. Extraordinarily.

And with a little — OK, a lot of — thanks to the winless Cleveland Browns.

Ten wins, which was Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy’s formula for getting into the playoffs, is still on the board. At 7-6 with three games to go — at Carolina, home against Minnesota and at Detroit — it’s not over yet.

All that’s left to find out is whether Rodgers’ surgically repaired right clavicle has mended. If so, this 27-21 comeback victory in overtime — the second straight week the Packers have won in sudden-death fashion — combined with the return of their two-time MVP quarterback could turn out to be a defining moment in a season that for most of Sunday looked like it would end up lost.

“The way we fought, these last two weeks … to get that overtime win last week and do that same thing is huge,” said Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. “There’s your season right there.”

Of course, if the scan of Rodgers’ collarbone shows that the break suffered nearly two months ago hasn’t completely healed, then Sunday’s win could prove to be just an afterthought because it would seem unlikely that a Brett Hundley-led team could run the table.

Although after the way Hundley engineered a pair of second-half touchdown drives to rally the Packers from a 21-7 deficit to get to overtime, maybe it’s not as unfathomable as it sounds.

For much of the afternoon, this looked like it had the makings of one of the most humiliating losses since the 1997 Packers lost to the 0-10 Colts. That team, however, went to the Super Bowl. This one, however, still has so much more work to do to even make the playoffs.

But remember, Rodgers was playing at an MVP level before Anthony Barr changed the course of the Packers’ season with the hit that broke Rodgers’ right collarbone.

Rodgers had thrown 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions, and the Packers’ only loss in their first five games with him at the helm came at Atlanta.

“We love Aaron Rodgers, but I will not answer any questions about him today,” McCarthy said after the game. “This is about winning the game, and he’s still in the medical situation and as soon as we have the information we’ll try to get it to you.”

They still have all of their receivers, including Davante Adams, whose 1-yard touchdown on a back-shoulder throw sent the game into overtime and whose 25-yard touchdown catch-and-run in the extra session won it.

It was Hundley’s third win since Rodgers’ injury.

Now, they have a revamped running attack that, although it struggled for most of Sunday’s game, is just a week removed from a season-best 199-yard performance against the Buccaneers.

“It gives us a lot of confidence going forward,” said Hundley, who threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. “This team has a lot of fight, I’ll tell you that. We’re not out of this thing. We have a lot of fight in us. These two last games, we fought back. When we needed to execute, we executed. When our backs were against the wall, we came out swinging. We’ve done it for the last two weeks — came up short [against] the Steelers. This team has a lot of fight and it’s not over yet.”

The Browns gift-wrapped this one when their rookie quarterback, DeShone Kizer, threw one up for grabs in overtime with Matthews in his face. Rookie Josh Jones intercepted it, giving the Packers a short field to set up the game-winning score.

Of course, all the optimism over Rodgers’ return to practice last week and the face-saving overtime win over the Browns could be dashed if tests show Rodgers’ collarbone hasn’t completely mended.

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The Green Bay Packers’ best offense without Aaron Rodgers might be their running game.

If they have any running backs left.

They nearly ran out in Sunday’s 23-16 win at Chicago, and it might make life without their two-time NFL MVP quarterback even tougher than it’s already been if they can’t get Aaron Jones or Ty Montgomery back soon.

On a day when the Packers lost their top two running backs — Jones to a potentially serious knee injury and Montgomery to another rib injury — they answered questions about whether they could win a game with Brett Hundley as their quarterback, even if Hundley didn’t make many game-changing plays.

For the first time since Rodgers broke his collarbone in Week 6, Hundley was the more effective quarterback — but just barely. He made two of the best throws of his three starts to put the game away — a 19-yard back-shoulder touchdown in the fourth quarter to Davante Adams, who has the only two touchdowns that Hundley has thrown since he took over, and a 42-yarder to Adams on third-and-10 with two minutes to play.

Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky made the same mistakes that have hampered Hundley of late — the most egregious of which was holding onto the ball for far too long. It allowed a Packers pass rush that has been nonexistent to get home far more often than they have recently.

The Packers won for the first time since Rodgers’ injury, and at 5-4 they avoided falling under .500 for the first time this season. A few more of these and there might be reason for Rodgers to return late in the season; he’s eligible to come off injured reserve no sooner than the Week 15 game at Carolina. With a scuffling team coming to Lambeau Field next Sunday, perhaps there’s a winning streak in the Packers’ future.

Still, it’s worth wondering whether Sunday’s result was simply a function of their opponent. However, the fact that Adams, Montgomery and then Jamaal Williams were able to run the ball against a Bears defense that ranked eighth overall and 13th against the run should give coach Mike McCarthy a baseline for how his team can win sans Rodgers.

“The ability to run the football at the most critical times of the game I thought was a tribute to our running backs,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “I thought Jamaal had a heck of a day and I thought Brett Hundley played his best game of the year. Just handling the different situations, particularly the high pressure there in the fourth quarter. We got a big play from Davante when we needed it.”

Montgomery’s 37-yard touchdown was his fourth career rush of at least 30 yards, all of which have come against the Bears. He had 54 yards on six carries before he reinjured his ribs. Before that, Jones had carried three times for 12 yards. That left Williams as the only remaining halfback active for the game, and he helped grind things out with 67 yards on 20 carries.

“I guess he was third string but it speaks a lot to him and his preparation,” left tackle David Bakhtiari said. “He was able to come in and knew what to do. Mentally he was ready and physically he was ready. That’s something that you want to see. Moving forward, we’ll see what’s up with our backs. Terrible to see two of them go down. He’s got the film that he can lower his pad level and get after some defensive players, so that’s going to be nice.”

In all, the Packers ran it a season-high 37 times (nine more attempts than their previous season high) for 160 yards.

“I feel like that’s my type of running style is downhill. I feel like I can be versatile, too — agile and do all the other things I need to do to get outside the tackles and try to take it for a touchdown,” Williams said. “These type of games, you’ve got to pound it, get those first downs and really just have that pride with your linemen that you can get the first downs, no matter what.”

Or maybe the Packers will have to rely on their defense, which rediscovered its pass rush. Nick Perry had as many sacks (three) as the Packers had in their previous four games combined.

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Aaron Rodgers’ fractured right collarbone caused the point spread on next week’s New Orleans Saints-Green Bay Packers game to move 10 points.

The Packers were 6.5-point favorites over the Saints last week in an early line available at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. When the Westgate reposted the line Sunday night, after Rodgers’ injury, New Orleans was a 3.5-point favorite.

Rodgers suffered the injury in the first quarter of the Packers’ 23-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The team said he could miss the rest of the season.

Rodgers missed seven games in 2013, after breaking his left collarbone. The injury to his right (throwing) shoulder is expected to keep him out longer.

Heading into the weekend, the Packers were the favorites to win the NFC at the Westgate and were behind only the New England Patriots in the book’s odds to win the Super Bowl at 5-1.

Westgate head football oddsmaker Ed Salmons said he was waiting for an official timetable on Rodgers, but went ahead and moved the Packers’ Super Bowl odds to 12-1 after the injury.

“If they say he’s done for the year, they’re going to go a lot higher,” Salmons said.

If Rodgers is ruled out for the season, Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology said it would likely move the Packers to around 30-1.

Brett Hundley, a third-year pro out of UCLA, replaced Rodgers against the Vikings and is expected to be the starter against the Saints. Hundley completed 18 of 33 passes for 157 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions against the Vikings.

CG Technology vice president of risk Jason Simbal said, in his opinion, Rodgers is the most valuable player to the line in the NFL, even more than New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

“It’s more about the quality of backups than the difference between Rodgers and Brady,” Simbal said.

The Packers had attracted the second-most bets to win the Super Bowl at CG Technology, behind only the Patriots.

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Aaron Rodgers and his Green Bay Packers teammates are asking fans at Lambeau Field for Thursday night’s game against the Chicago Bears to join them in linking arms during the national anthem.

Most of the Packers’ players did that on the sideline before Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, though three players — Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks and Kevin King — sat on the bench.

Most of the Packers with their arms linked but Lance Kendricks, Martellus Bennett and Kevin King were seated.

In a statement released by the players Tuesday night, the team said that players, coaches and staff will join together with arms intertwined to represent a coming together of people who want freedom, equality, tolerance, understanding and justice for those who have been unjustly treated, discriminated against or otherwise treated unfairly.

The statement, which noted that the NFL family is one of the most diverse communities in the world, and that the game of football brings people together, said that intertwining arms represents the many people who not only helped to build the country but who will continue to build a country that is more fair and just.

Rodgers said it’s not a protest.

“This is about equality,” Rodgers said Tuesday. “This is about unity and love and growing together as a society and starting a conversation around something that may be a little bit uncomfortable for people. But we’ve got to come together and talk about these things and grow as a community, as a connected group of individuals in our society, and we’re going to continue to show love and unity, and this week we’re going to ask the fans to join in as well and come together and show people that we can be connected and we can grow together.”

It sounds as if all the players — even the ones who sat during the anthem on Sunday — will participate after they held a meeting to discuss it.

“I think it was Marty’s idea,” said Kendricks, who said he sat during the anthem to bring awareness to people in Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria. “Aaron spoke first and he kind of laid it out and laid out the fact that he’s on our side and he understands the message being conveyed and trying to get across. And then Marty wrote a statement and in the statement he said we’re going to lock arms and he’s going to challenge the fans to lock arms as well, so it kind of puts them in a position where it’s like, ‘Look you’re either going to unite with us or you’re not.’ I think that’s really cool because it puts them in a position where it’s like now we’re talking to you, so you make a decision, peacefully make a decision.”

Rodgers called the team meeting about it “fantastic.”

“We kind of talked about a lot of things — things I’m not going to talk about because it’s meant for just the locker room — but I think there’s been a great sense of unity and love and support in this locker room, guys coming together,” Rodgers said. “Outside the building, I think the message has been diluted a little bit and it’s been kind of taken away from what we were trying to do: show a united front, guys linking up together. There’s been a lot of hatred on my social media, probably other people’s social media as well. Frankly don’t understand it, a lot of it.”

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Take that, Tom Brady.

Aaron Rodgers did Sunday what the New England Patriots quarterback did three hours earlier.

It’s what MVP quarterbacks do.

And Rodgers might have even one-upped Brady.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback engineered a game-tying drive and a game-winning one, and it was vintage free-play Rodgers.

First, he threaded the needle like only he seems to do on a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson that barely skimmed by the fingers of Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick with 17 seconds left in regulation.

Then, in overtime, when the Bengals jumped offside on third down, Rodgers made them pay with a 72-yard pass to Geronimo Allison for a catch and run that set up Mason Crosby’s 27-yard game-winning field goal. When Crosby’s kick went through the uprights in the south end zone to win it 27-24, it was the only time the Packers led all game.

Remarkably, it was Rodgers’ first overtime win. He came in 0-4 in regular-season overtime games and 0-7 overall including the playoffs. Other than the 2009 wild-card playoff loss at Arizona, when Rodgers fumbled, most of those were hardly his fault. He had thrown only six overtime passes in those seven overtime games.

It also was the first time Rodgers won in a game in which he was sacked at least six times. He had been 0-6 in such games.

A loss would have put the Packers at 1-2 for the fourth time in Rodgers’ career as a starter. That would’ve left a gloomy outlook considering how beat up the Packers are and their short week ahead — their next game is Thursday night against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field.

Rodgers’ heroics made his first pick-six in more than seven years a footnote to this game and not what defined it.

Now, perhaps defensive tackle Mike Daniels, outside linebacker Nick Perry, cornerback Davon House and inside linebacker Jake Ryan will be back on Thursday. And perhaps left tackle David Bakhtiari and receiver Randall Cobb will return.

Either way, the Packers avoided a potential early-season crisis thanks to Rodgers.

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers versus a 304-pound defensive tackle in a footrace to the end zone should go in the Green Bay Packers quarterback’s favor every time.

Yet after he lost the 64-yard sprint to Seahawks defensive lineman Nazair Jones, who to be sure had a running start after he picked off a short pass in the first quarter of Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field, Rodgers got a good chuckle out of it.

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That’s because although the interception stood (and ended Rodgers’ career-long regular-season streak of 251 passes without one), it turned out not to be a pick-six (which would have been only the second of his NFL career) because of a penalty, and then the Packers defense came up with a stop that forced a punt.

“I was just glad it wasn’t a pick-6,” Rodgers said. “I think I’ve got a pretty good streak going right now. And it would have been rough to give up a pick-6 to a lineman who outran me over a 60-yard path, especially since I feel like I’ve been working on my conditioning and my running. Thankfully, there was, I guess, a punch thrown. I don’t know if they called a block in the back on me.”

There were indeed two penalties on the Seahawks during Jones’ return. The officials got cornerback Jeremy Lane for allegedly throwing a punch that got him ejected and defensive end Cliff Avril for an illegal block in the back against Rodgers.

So even though Rodgers couldn’t chase down Jones, his effort to do so led to Avril’s infraction.

It wasn’t the first time Rodgers has tried to prevent one of his interceptions from being returned for a touchdown. The most memorable instance came in the 2010 NFC Championship Game, when Rodgers threw a red-zone interception right to Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher. Rodgers chased him down and tripped him up near midfield, and it saved the Packers points.

Rodgers’ only career interception that’s been returned for a touchdown came in 2009 at Tampa Bay on a pass that ricocheted off Donald Driver’s hands.

“It’s kind of rare,” Packers offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said. “It’s just one of those situations where, I think he’s just being a competitor and he’s just reacting. I think he’s a football player first and I think he’s reacting to what he sees. That’s kind of how I look at it. Obviously you’ve got to be smart about the situation. We don’t want to put ourselves in a position where they get a pick-six and then we all know the implications of that. So I think that’s really what it boils down to, he’s being a competitor reacting to what’s taking place.”