All along, Aaron Rodgers has used the phrase “risk vs. reward” as he’s fought to return from a broken collarbone.
And that’s especially true now that the Green Bay Packers control their fate in the NFC North race.
“I think there has to be on some level a risk-reward conversation," Rodgers told ESPN Milwaukee’s Jason Wilde on his weekly radio show on Tuesday. “You have to base that on the evidence you see on the scan, but also how I'm feeling and if I'm able to do normal football movements without pain. That obviously goes into the equation.”
Last week, the risk was considered too great. Rodgers practiced extensively on Wednesday and Thursday but couldn’t convince Dr. Pat McKenzie to clear him.
The question is, can Rodgers convince McKenzie this week? Rodgers said he won’t get scanned this week, intimating the collarbone hasn’t fully healed.
“I think you can probably guess,” Rodgers said of the results if he were to be scanned this week. “I have an idea what it's going to look like based on the previous one, the amount of days we have between scans, project that forward to a similar amount of days and have a pretty good idea.”
So, with the practice week for Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh beginning on Wednesday, Rodgers’ path looks similar. Two weeks ago, before the Atlanta game, Rodgers practiced on Wednesday but felt pain doing things as simple as taking a snap and handing off and did almost nothing the next two days. Last week before the Dallas game, the pain wasn’t an issue, so he practiced extensively on Thursday before being shut down on Friday.
“Last week, I felt more like myself,” he said. “I think the guys would say I looked like myself and I knew I was closer. It's Tuesday here, I haven't practiced this week. I kind of did the same thing I did last week after I was ruled out Friday morning.
“I really didn’t do anything Friday. Only threw a couple Sunday morning. And so we’re sitting here with another four, five days of rest while still doing my strengthening exercises and my posture stuff. So, we’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”
The Packers are back in the playoff chase after Matt Flynn led big second-half comebacks against the Falcons and Cowboys. With Detroit’s collapse, the Packers would win the NFC North by beating Pittsburgh on Sunday and Chicago next week.
“It's amazing that we're sitting here 7-6-1 with a chance to win two and be in (the playoffs),” Rodgers said. “Not only that, but win two and be in and maybe be the (No.) 3 seed.”
Rodgers, obviously, gives the Packers their best chance at winning these games and getting into the playoffs. However, if the decision is based solely on the state of Rodgers’ collarbone and the risk if sustaining a more severe injury, would McKenzie sign off on Rodgers playing on Sunday?
“Sometimes those guys have to save you from yourself,” Rodgers said. “Doc and I always have had a close relationship and an honest relationship. I think he trusts me on how I'm feeling. It doesn’t mean I'm not going to battle him.”
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.