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Vikings' Zimmer has only compliments for Rodgers

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates the game-winning touchdown pass against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field last Sunday. Rodgers says he will play against the Vikings in their upcoming game. Dan Powers / USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

ST. PAUL — In the event anyone thought Mike Zimmer had criticized Aaron Rodgers, he wanted to set the record straight Thursday, Sept. 13.

The Vikings coach on Wednesday said about Rodgers, "He walks on water, so I'm sure he's going to play.''

The Green Bay quarterback suffered a sprained left knee in the first half last Sunday against Chicago and was taken off on a cart. But he returned for the second half and led the Packers back from a 20-0 deficit to win 24-23.

Rodgers has said he plans to play Sunday against the Vikings at Lambeau Field, but the Packers have said no decision has been made. Zimmer stressed Thursday that his comment about Rodgers playing was "a compliment.''

"It wasn't like I was trying to dig him,'' Zimmer said. "It's like, he can do anything on the football field.''

Did Zimmer believe somebody had thought it was criticism?

"I don't know,'' Zimmer said. "You hear this and that. So it wasn't. I definitely wouldn't criticize him. I'm not dumb enough to do it ever. I've had to play him way too many times. I'm dumb in a lot of things but not that.''

Rodgers has not practiced all week. After Green Bay's final practice of the week Friday, the Packers must put out a final injury report for Sunday's game.

When asked if he believes the Packers are using any gamesmanship regarding Rodgers, Zimmer said no. Regardless, he firmly believes Rodgers will be in uniform Sunday.

"I think he's going to play,'' Zimmer said. "This guy is one of the best football players that's ever played in the history of the NFL, so I have no doubt that he's going to go out there and he's going to give it his best shot.

"I watched a lot of tape after he got hurt. The things he was able to do were incredible. So I know he's going to get ready to play and hopefully we're going to get ready to play.''

Griffen injures toe

Defensive end Everson Griffen was added to Minnesota's injury report after not being on it Wednesday. He was listed as limited in practice with a toe injury.

All 53 players on the roster practiced Thursday. The only other player listed as limited was center Pat Elflein.

With Elflein continuing to work his way back from shoulder and ankle issues, Brett Jones is expected to make his second straight start at center Sunday.


Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer was pleased with punter Matt Wile's first game with the Vikings. In a 24-16 win last Sunday over San Francisco, Wile punted six times for gross average of 38.3 yards and a net of 36.0.

"Matt did a really nice job," Priefer said. "We had six punts and he had five pluses and one real bad minus. The five pluses were huge. We pinned them inside the 20 four times.''

The one poor punt went 29 yards and out of bounds in the fourth quarter.

Zimmer used safety Jayon Kearse in a nickel role against the 49ers, but has not ruled out putting George Iloka in that spot. Zimmer said Kearse got the nod because "he practiced a little more'' while Iloka "hadn't done it as much'' after being signed Aug. 22.

Offensive tackle Aviante Collins had successful surgery Wednesday to repair a torn right bicep. Collins, injured Sept. 6 in practice, was placed on injured reserve Monday. He is out for the season.