What ails Packers' offense: Aaron Rodgers' knee or other factor?

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Whatever is ailing the Green Bay Packers' offense, especially early in games this season, it's not the ailing left knee of Aaron Rodgers.

At least that's Davante Adams' assessment.

All the Packers' No. 1 receiver knows is what he saw in the second half at Detroit on Sunday, when Rodgers threw three touchdown passes and didn't turn the ball over.

"I don't see it truly limiting us right now," Adams said. "It's limiting maybe how he feels, but he's able to get out there and still play. It's not going to change anything on how we go about things. So hopefully it doesn't linger."

Maybe that's wishful thinking on Adams' part.

And if it's not Rodgers' knee that's limiting the Packers, then what is?

Through five weeks, they rank tied for 18th in points, tied for 19th in red zone touchdown rate and 10th in yards.

There was hope that the worst of Rodgers' knee injury was behind him. He practiced last Thursday as a full participant in pads -- the first time that happened since he went down in the season opener. He said he even wore a lighter -- and presumably less restrictive -- brace in Detroit.

But then Lions linebacker Christian Jones hit Rodgers and landed on his knee during the first series of Sunday's game, and Rodgers said his knee was back to being sore.

Rodgers was not sharp in the first half at Detroit.

He didn't throw to a wide-open Adams on the opening drive for what would have been a sure first down on the opening drive.

He didn't recognize backside pressure while out of the pocket -- and begging for tight end Jimmy Graham to come back to the ball -- and got strip-sacked, losing the fumble on the second drive.

He overshot rookie Equanimeous St. Brown in the end zone on the third possession. He also appeared to have Graham open on a shorter crossing route on the same play.

Before they reached halftime, Rodgers lost another fumble on a strip sack.

Rodgers' two turnovers led to 10 first-half Detroit points.

No wonder there was continued talk of another slow start. The Packers have been outscored 42-13 in first quarters this season and 76-43 in the first halves.

"He's not going to make excuses, and I'm not going to stand up here and go that route because he's playing through a lot," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of Rodgers. "I mean, he's playing through a lot going into the game and he played through a lot in the game. I think what he's given us is more than -- I don't want to say more than we expected. He's given us a lot, and that's the reality of it. But he's playing through a lot."

When asked if there's more to Rodgers' situation than just the knee injury, McCarthy would only say: "I appreciate what he's fighting through."

The same could be said of Adams, who played Sunday despite a calf injury that popped up in practice last Wednesday. Still, Adams played all but 10 snaps Sunday -- second most among receivers behind rookie Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who played 77 of 81 plays -- and caught nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. It might have been a different outcome had Adams been able to haul in a pass at the Lions' 1-yard that was initially ruled a catch but overturned on replay.

Most of that, of course, came in the second half when the Packers were in a no-huddle and/or two-minute mode because of the 24-0 halftime deficit -- the largest of Rodgers' career as a starter.

It also raises the question of why not put Rodgers in more no-huddle/two-minute situations if that's where he has excelled this season?

"Maybe if we can get going as an offense I can start faster, play a little better early on and give us a little momentum," Rodgers said after Sunday's loss. "We've been down in some of these games and you kind of get back into it, and we had a chance. We were down 11, had a chance to be sitting there on the 1-yard line to pull within a score and [Adams] I'm sure would like to have that one back. But we have to make the plays throughout the game, not just in crunch time, and I've got to play better from the start. And I expect to and I will and we've got to give our defense, you know, some more help."

McCarthy has offered nothing but praise of Rodgers even after Rodgers took shots at his coach following what he called a "terrible" performance on offense in the Week 4 win over the Bills and opened the door to questions about their relationship.

It is, of course, admirable that both Rodgers and Adams gutted it out against the Lions and turned things around in the second half even if Rodgers' stats -- 442 yards and three touchdown passes -- were a tad misleading.

"We're obviously two of the biggest leaders of this football team and obviously two of the biggest playmakers, it just sets a good example for the young guys showing them that sometimes in the NFL you're going to be banged up all year," Adams said. "If you have a week where you feel completely fine, that's a blessing. So work through stuff and times when we're playing division games -- and obviously we didn't come out with the win -- it's important to make sure you're available.

"It says a lot about him. It says a lot about how much he wants to win, it says a lot about how much he wants this team to move forward. Obviously we have a lot of tools, I'm assuming it doesn't take much for him to want to do it."