Will this be the week Aaron Rodgers returns for the Green Bay Packers?
Rodgers, who sustained a broken collarbone against Chicago on Nov. 4, has not been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, coach Mike McCarthy said on Tuesday.
However, Rodgers can’t play until he’s cleared by the medical staff. That did not happen on Tuesday morning.
“At this point, it’s really about the risk of going back out there,” Rodgers said on his weekly radio show with ESPN Milwaukee’s Jason Wilde on Tuesday evening. “I can’t say this morning was the greatest news because I was hoping for full clearance to get back out there and we didn’t get that. It’s Tuesday so we have a good amount of time before the game. The last time we played Atlanta at home, I believe I was doubtful on the injury report and found a way to play. We didn’t win that game, but I was able to play.”
Rodgers, however, will practice in limited capacity on Wednesday – the team’s first practice of the week. Rodgers also practiced on Tuesday and Wednesday last week but wasn’t cleared to play against Detroit.
“Aaron wants to play, there’s no question about it,” McCarthy said. “But it’s a medical situation. He has a clear understanding where he is as far as the process of getting back on the field. He feels good, and we’re going to see what he can do tomorrow.”
Rodgers said he’s made “incredible progress” since sustaining the injury four weeks and one day ago. Rodgers said the trainers told him it takes bone between three and six weeks to heal.
“I don’t think Mike ruled me out today and I’m definitely not ruling myself out, but I know there’s a rush to get back out there,” Rodgers said. “I can feel it, obviously, internally but externally, and then understand all that comes with that. I do desperately want to be back out there but it has to look the right way.”
Matt Flynn will get the reps with the starters ahead of Rodgers and Scott Tolzien, McCarthy said.
“It’s important we get (Rodgers) out there and take his -- you don’t want to call it rehab – but (his work) to another level,” McCarthy said.
The Packers have gone 0-4-1 without Rodgers and their playoff hopes are on life support at 5-6-1. They are in 10th place in the NFC. Carolina (9-3) and San Francisco (8-4) are in control of the Wild Card spots, and Philadelphia (7-5), Arizona (7-5) and Chicago (6-6) also are ahead of the Packers. Realistically, the Packers’ best chance would be to win the NFC North, which Detroit leads at 7-5.
Still, McCarthy called it “external opinion” when asked about a report that said the team is considering shutting down Rodgers for the rest of the season.
“I care about it too much,” Rodgers said of sitting out if the team falls out of the playoff race. “I've put too much into this. I'm in my ninth season. You don't want to miss out on opportunities. There's probably some people who have given up on us, given up on this season. ... I desperately want to be back on the field, and that's been my stance from the beginning. If I'm healthy, I want to be on the field. Would hate to be in a situation where we're out of it, but this is my team. I'm the leader of this team and I want to be out there.”
Until then, it remains Flynn’s job, despite a dismal performance against the Lions in which the team’s only touchdown was scored by the defense.
“We just think Matt’s further along as far as game experience and just a little more comfortable in the system,” McCarthy said. “Scott’s worked extremely hard. Frankly, for both Scott and Matt, Scott really had one week of full reps to get ready for the Giants game. This will be Matt’s first opportunity to get a full week of reps getting ready for Atlanta game. That’s what you have to look at. Talking even with Aaron today about trying to maybe get him ready, to get him a chance to come back, is how do you balance that out? Because at the end of the day, we have to make sure our quarterback is ready to play.”
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.