Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been ruled out for Sunday’s game at Dallas.
And he’s none too happy about it.
In ruling out Rodgers on Friday, coach Mike McCarthy hinted at some tense conversations between the medical staff and Rodgers. Rodgers says he’s ready to go; the training staff says Rodgers’ broken collarbone hasn’t healed.
The training staff’s opinion – which carries the most weight – ruled the day.
“I’m definitely OK with it,” McCarthy said of the decision. “And, frankly, if I think if Aaron was asked the question, he wants to play. He feels he’s ready to play. Based on what he’s accomplished physically and what he was able to do at practice on Wednesday and Thursday, he’s ready to go. Hey, it’s not the easiest thing to sit there and tell your franchise quarterback he can’t play in the game when he wants to play in the game. This is clearly a decision that’s made in the best interest of Aaron Rodgers.”
Rodgers barely practiced on Friday. The collarbone was not scanned, McCarthy said.
Along with the need to be cleared by the team’s medical staff, Rodgers on Thursday said that he’d have to take most of the steps on Friday to get ready to face the Cowboys. That didn’t happen, though. During the portion of practice that was open to reporters. Matt Flynn took most of the team reps, with Scott Tolzien standing about 10 yards behind Flynn and “running” the play mentally. Rodgers, meanwhile, stood on the sideline in a stocking cap. He did not take a snap of 11-on-11 in front of reporters.
“It’s been a difficult morning going through the conversation with Aaron and Doctor McKenzie,” McCarthy said. “He feels like he’s ready to play. He’s had a good week of preparation. He’s very disappointed. He’s frustrated. But speaking with Doctor McKenzie, this is the right decision.”
With Rodgers missing a sixth consecutive game, Matt Flynn will get the start.
“Matt Flynn, let’s go. Let’s go win the game,” left tackle David Bakhtiari said.
Flynn got the full amount of reps for last week’s game against Atlanta. This week, he shared the reps on Wednesday and Thursday. The reduced workload won’t be a factor, Flynn said.
“My mind-set all week’s been that I’m going to start,” Flynn said. “That’s been my mind-set, so it doesn’t really change anything. Just keep preparing, make sure – our physical work’s kind of in the bag – so just mentally, I’m going over the game plan, understanding it a little bit more. Just making sure I’m 100 percent on everything that we’re trying to accomplish.”
McCarthy elected to rule out Rodgers rather than attempt to play in a bit of gamesmanship with the Cowboys. Given Rodgers’ workload on Wednesday and Thursday, the Cowboys likely had some expectation that Rodgers would start. McCarthy could have prolonged the mind games by listing Rodgers as questionable. Instead, McCarthy ended the drama on Friday – just like he has each the preceding weeks.
“I’m not very good at that, frankly,” McCarthy said. “I never felt being, on the other side of that, that it really accomplished anything. I thought the Minnesota Vikings last year, prior to the playoff game with Christian Ponder not playing in the game, that was about as well-kept decision that I’ve ever seen, and I don’t think it really factored in the outcome of the game.”
While Rodgers won’t play on Sunday, it would seem a decent bet that he’ll get the green light for next week’s home game against Pittsburgh. McCarthy said Rodgers cleared a “hurdle” this week. Presumably, that was the amount of pain Rodgers was dealing with. Rodgers said the pain was noticeable when he practiced last Wednesday. This week, Rodgers practiced even more on Thursday after practicing on Wednesday.
Pain, however, isn’t the best indicator, as Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo – who sustained a broken collarbone in 2010 – explained during a Wednesday conference call.
“Obviously, the discomfort, and if you’re feeling it at all, you can’t come back and play,” Romo said. “Even more so than that, even when you get where you feel like it’s pain-free, it still doesn’t mean you’re ready to play just because it’s such an easy thing to hurt again. It’s a little different in the sense that if you come back right when you feel like you’re healthy, there’s just so many cases of people come down with another collarbone injury -- the same one just reinjuring it.”
Packers injury report
Out: QB Aaron Rodgers (collarbone), DE C.J. Wilson (ankle). Probable: C Evan Dietrich-Smith (ankle/knee), ILB Brad Jones (ankle), RB Eddie Lacy (ankle), ILB Jamari Lattimore (knee), OLB Mike Neal (abdomen), OLB Nick Perry (foot).
Jones, Lacy, Lattimore and Neal all practiced on Friday after sitting out on Wednesday and Thursday.
“I definitely feel a lot better than I did finishing off last week,” Lacy said. “I’ve had some time off and I still have 48 hours until the game. I feel as though with that time that I’ll be better.”
Cowboys injury report
Out: LB Bruce Carter (hamstring), WR Dwayne Harris (hamstring), LB Sean Lee (neck). Questionable: CB Morris Claiborne (hamstring). Probable: LB Justin Durant (hamstring), DT Jason Hatcher (neck), LB DeVonte Holloman (neck), LB Orie Lemon (not injury related).
The Cowboys will be without three big players in Lee, Claiborne and Harris. Lee, the middle linebacker, leads the team in tackles (121) and interceptions (four). Claiborne, a starting cornerback, has one interception. Harris has been one of the NFL's top kick returners with a 30.5-yard average on kickoffs and 14.0 average (and one touchdown) on punts.
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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.