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GREEN BAY (Wis.) -- Green Bay Packers fans had high expectations last season due to their appearance in NFC Championship Game. This feeling isn't changing despite a loss that saw them lose for the second consecutive year with a Super Bowl spot at stake.
Aaron Rodgers' current situation has changed. Given all the uncertainty surrounding his future with the Packers and Wednesday's admission that Sunday's season opener against New Orleans Saints had a different feel, the reigning NFL MVP said Wednesday.
Rodgers stated, "Yeah it does; it definitely does." There are many unknowns.
Rodgers is the chief among the unknowns.
He was unsure about his return for a 17th year until the day before training camp. Then he broke his long-standing holdout and decided to leave the organization. A restructured contract was part of his return that made it easier for the parties to part ways following this season.
This season feels like "Last Dance", not just because Rodgers is there, but also because the Packers are facing significant salary-cap issues next year that could force them into a roster overhaul.
"I believe we don't feel any pressure. Rodgers stated that Rodgers is speaking for himself and cannot speak for everyone. But the feeling I get from the locker room's energy is not pressure. It's about focus. It's the right perspective, and the right kind of focus.
"We are confident that we have a highly skilled team. We are aware of the expectations. We are focusing on accountability and holding one another accountable, because no matter what happens in any of our circumstances, this group will not remain the same way it is today. We're going to be able to enjoy the year and all it has to offer us, and that's the best perspective for when we find ourselves in this situation.
The Packers' loss to Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-26 in last season's NFC championship game was a completely different feeling than the loss to San Francisco 49ers in that same game one year earlier. The Packers believe they should have won that match. This was Rodgers' first appearance as a starter hosting a conference championship.
The majority of the team from last year returns. However, Green Bay will not have All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari for the season. He is recovering from ACL surgery and will be out at least six weeks. Two rookies will begin on the offensive line.
Davante Adams, a Packers receiver, said Wednesday that this team is "probably the most hungry I've ever seen," referring to how close they have been a few times. "So I feel like everyone in the back of his mind knows how achievable it is and how realistic we are to reaching that final step."
Adams, like Rodgers' future is also in doubt. Adams is in his final year of contract and wants to become the highest-paid player in the league.
Negotiations fell apart before training camp and, despite the Packers' history of getting deals done before the season openers, it seems unlikely.
Adams replied, "No, no chance," when Adams was asked if that was possible. Adams replied, "No."