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Aaron Rodgers, Packers' offense could look different after bye

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Rodgers leads Packers to late win (1:08)

Aaron Rodgers records his 18th game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime as the Packers edge the 49ers 33-30. (1:08)

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers could look a little different when he returns next week from the Green Bay Packers' bye.

If all goes well, the quarterback will play his next game without the restrictive brace he has worn on his injured left knee.

Rodgers said he discussed that with team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie right after Monday night's 33-30 last-second win over the San Francisco 49ers.

"Yeah, I just told Doc, I'd love to take the brace off after the bye," Rodgers said after the game. "But we'll see how I respond tomorrow and this week and next week and probably get some sort of image of it again. But that would be nice to be feeling great come next week Wednesday."

What could that mean for a Packers offense that has already relied heavily on its banged-up quarterback in the first six games?

"Well, I think it's just stating the obvious: If you're [not] wearing a brace, it's definitely, it gives you more free range," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday. "Those are all medical decisions, and we'll work through that. We'll just see where he is. I'm sure that he's anxious to get that brace off."

Considering what the Packers (3-2-1) face after this week's bye -- four out of five on the road starting with at the Rams and at the Patriots and ending at the Seahawks and at Minnesota after a home game against Miami -- any improvement in Rodgers' knee and overall health would be welcome.

Monday night's game was Rodgers' fifth straight with at least 40 passing attempts; he completed 25 of 46 passes for 425 yards with two touchdowns and a passer rating of 100.4. He is now two games shy of tying the single-season record for consecutive games with 40-plus pass attempts, held by Drew Bledsoe in 1995, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Before this current five-game streak, Rodgers had never attempted that many passes in more than three straight games.

To be sure, the Packers' slow starts have put Rodgers in a must-throw situation. That's not entirely new, but this season has taken it to another level. Since 2015, the Packers' first-through-third-quarter scoring differential is minus-91, which ranks 20th in the NFL, but their fourth-quarter differential is plus-105, best in the league over that stretch.

The Packers' pass-play percentage is at its highest since Rodgers became the starter in 2008. Through six games, the Packers' dropback percentage is at 71.4. That's compared to their mark of 63.4 percent from 2008 to 2017. Only one time has the Packers' dropback rate exceeded 66 percent; that was in 2016 at 69.1 percent. As a result, the Packers rank fourth in passing yards but just 17th in rushing yards per game.

"I think we'd like to, if we had 70 plays in a game, just hypothetically -- I don't know who the opponent is or exactly who we're lining up -- but hypothetically, you'd like to run the ball 30 times and throw it 40 times as a starting point," McCarthy said.

"Look inside of that, too. How many of those are RPOs? How many of those are where the ball's coming out? That's why I think it's important to stay in tune with your own statistics, because it's something you do each and every week. Are we giving our guys the opportunity to come off the ball where the play action and the run game are looking similar? I felt we definitely accomplished that clearly [Monday] night more than we have all year. I felt like we were getting through the call sheet throughout the game. The ability to move Aaron around freely -- we called more keeps [rollout plays] last night than we called all year. I think that's more of the vision of how we'd like to play."

Rodgers annually says it takes the first part of the season to establish an identity on offense. So far, this year's identity seems to be struggles early followed by success in the no-huddle/two-minute style offense.

If that's the case, then why not use that more often?

Rodgers and receiver Davante Adams were especially productive in that niche against the 49ers. Adams caught four of his 10 passes for 81 of his 132 yards and one of his two touchdowns in the final two drives of the game. Adams ranks third in the NFL in catches (47) and tied for first in receiving touchdowns (six). Rodgers also had a key 21-yard scramble on the game-winning drive that showed just how much more mobile he is now than when he first got hurt against the Bears in the opener.

Rodgers and McCarthy also work off a much different playcalling pattern in those situations. McCarthy gives Rodgers a menu of plays from which to choose from.

"Since 2009, we've committed an exorbitant amount of time to the two-minute," McCarthy said. "And I think Aaron and the function of it, I think he does an exceptional job with it, and that was definitely the case last night.

"We've gone through that before. There's a lot more moving parts to that. The identity of your running game and so forth, the action game, so some of the things that we're focused on. But there's always components of that. No-huddle versus two-minute is not as blanketed as you may think. But hey, hopefully we may go down that road more. We'll see how it goes."