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Rodgers sharp in cameo vs. Redskins

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) congratulates Green Bay Packers tight end Martellus Bennett (80) after scoring a touchdown against the Washington Redskins during the first half Saturday night at FedEx Field. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)

The Sports Xchange

GREEN BAY — Quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn’t expected to play in the Green Bay Packers’ preseason game at Washington on Saturday. However, Rodgers was a surprise starter, played one series and looked to be in midseason form.

Rodgers led a 15-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that he capped with a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Martellus Bennett.

“I was looking for the offense to get off to a good start, get that first drive together,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after Green Bay’s 21-17 win over the Redskins. “I thought our run-pass mix was excellent. Aaron played extremely well. We hit the target.”

Last year, Rodgers played just two series and 26 total snaps in the preseason — all of which came in the third game. Rodgers then got off to the slowest start of his career.

It appears Rodgers will play more this August than a year ago.

One reason is Rodgers and Bennett — an unrestricted free agent acquisition from the New England Patriots — need to get in sync. On the touchdown pass, the 6-foot-6 Bennett lined up on 6-1 linebacker Zach Brown, and Rodgers took advantage of the mismatch.

“Yeah, it was good,” Rodgers said of the touchdown throw. “I threw it a little low. He’s been calling for it up high, but he had a great route. He had a nice release off the ball and had a lot of separation. I was thinking more jump ball before the snap — I watched the replay and I probably could have put it to the corner on that.

“We’ll just keep working on it. We’ve been working in practice inside on some of that stuff. He did a good job for us. He’s going to be a big part of our offense.”

Rodgers finished the night 6-of 8 for 37 yards and had a handful of difference-making plays. He caught the Redskins with 12 men on the field on a third-and-5 play to keep one drive alive. Later, Rodgers scrambled for 13 yards on a third-and-6.

“I think it’s going to be a work in progress as we look to find our identity and what we want to do,” Rodgers said of the offense. “We started with some two-tight-end stuff and got to some sub stuff pretty quick. No, it’s going to be a work in progress. It was a good drive for us. We take some positives from it, but it’s going to take more than one drive.”

That’s for sure. Still, McCarthy loved what he saw from Rodgers and a first-string offense most believe will be one of the NFL’s best this season.

“He’s a leader. He’s a leader of your football team, he’s a leader of your offense, he’s the quarterback position,” McCarthy said of Rodgers. “Everything that we do from an offensive perspective goes through the quarterback position. The system is designed on making the quarterback successful, starting with running the football.”

Packer player watch

  • QB Brett Hundley, the backup to Rodgers, had a passer rating of 144.6 against Washington. Hundley went 9-of-10 for 107 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.

Hundley had a stellar preseason as a rookie in 2015, but played sparingly with an ankle injury last summer. Now, Hundley is once again looking like the player that turned heads two years ago.

“He’s picking up where he left off from after his rookie season,” Rodgers said of Hundley. “The stuff you see on the field is the stuff we see at practice and you guys see it during training camp. He gets out there and once he finds his rhythm and his comfort, he makes plays. He’s throwing the football well, he’s moving around the pocket well and he’s continuing to take strides. It’s fun to watch.”

  • QB Taysom Hill, No. 4 on the depth chart, was expected to be just a camp body. But the former BYU standout has become a real contender to make the Packers’ 53-man roster. In Green Bay’s first preseason game, Hill had a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3. In the Packers’ win over Washington, Hill had a 23-yard touchdown run with 6:16 left that provided the winning points in Green Bay’s 21-17 victory. “Taysom played very well,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “I feel like I’ve said that seven times already, but he played very well.

Green Bay.................. 7..... 7       0      7   —  21

Washington.............. 3..... 7       7      0   —  17

First Quarter

WAS—Du.Hopkins 34 yard field goal, 13:17.

GB—Ma.Bennett 3 yard pass from A.Rodgers (Crosby kick), 5:36.

Second Quarter

GB—Aa.Jones 5 yard pass from Hundley (Crosby kick), 7:38.

WAS—Crowder 4 yard pass from Cousins (Du.Hopkins kick), 0:13.

Third Quarter

WAS—Paul 16 yard pass from C.McCoy (Du.Hopkins kick), 5:30.

Fourth Quarter

GB—Ta.Hill 23 yard rush (Crosby kick), 6:16.

A—55,239.

TEAM STATISTICS

                                                GB           WAS

First Downs............................ 18             16

Total Net Yards..................... 266           335

Rushes-Yds....................... 29-110       22-64

Passing................................ 156           271

Sacked-Yds Lost................. 5-37           1-7

Comp-Att-Int....................... 22-32-0     27-45-0

Punts.................................. 7-47.0       7-43.7

Punt Returns........................ 3-18          5-18

Kickoff Returns.................... 1-16          1-18

Penalties-Yards................... 4-35          7-43

Fumbles-Lost........................ 2-1            1-0

Time of Possession............ 34:11        25:49

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING-GB, Ta.Hill 6-38, K.Phillips 5-17, A.Rodgers 2-15, Aa.Jones 3-14, Mays 5-13, Jm.Williams 7-12, Hundley 1-1. WAS, Perine 8-45, Kelley 9-9, Sudfeld 1-5, M.Jones 2-4, Ch.Thompson 2-1.

PASSING-GB, Hundley 9-10-0-107, Ta.Hill 6-11-0-49, A.Rodgers 6-8-0-37, J.Callahan 1-3-0-0. WAS, Cousins 14-23-0-144, C.McCoy 7-11-0-70, Sudfeld 6-11-0-64.

RECEIVING-GB, Aa.Jones 4-11, Janis 3-63, Allison 2-32, Jo.Nelson 2-19, K.Phillips 2-10, M.McCaffrey 2-10, Cobb 2-9, Tr.Davis 1-12, Mays 1-10, M.Clark 1-8, D.Adams 1-6, Ma.Bennett 1-3. WAS, Ch.Thompson 5-52, Ro.Davis 4-36, Pascal 3-27, Ve.Davis 2-49, Mc.Brown 2-17, Hazel 2-9, Crowder 2-8, R.Grant 2-7, Perine 1-29, Paul 1-16, Doctson 1-12, Pryor Sr. 1-11, Kelley 1-5.

MISSED FIELD GOALS- GB, None. WAS, None

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