The Green Bay Packers could be relatively close to having all hands on deck for Sunday’s NFC North championship game at Chicago.
Aaron Rodgers is back at quarterback, running back Eddie Lacy returned to practice and receiver Randall Cobb might be activated from injured reserve.
“I thought he had a good week of practice,” coach Mike McCarthy said of Rodgers on Friday. “Yesterday, he was good. I feel confident about where he is.”
McCarthy said neither Rodgers’ eight-week layoff nor injury risk would impact the game plan and play-calling.
“To me, that goes back to the decision (of clearing him),” McCarthy said. “If we were thinking that way, the decision wouldn’t be what it is. The decision’s been made. Obviously, it was a thorough one. And it’s time for Aaron to play. We’re going to cut him loose and we’re going to go play. We’re going to play to win.”
For the third consecutive week as he deals with a sprained ankle, Lacy was held out of practice to start the week but returned to work on Friday. McCarthy, saying he was “confident he’ll be ready to go,” listed Lacy as probable.
Lacy said he could “barely walk on it” after aggravating the injury during the third quarter of last week’s game against Pittsburgh. After another week of treatment and a walking boot, Lacy said he’ll give it all he’s got.
“For me, it’s just going to play until you can’t play anymore,” Lacy said. “I never know when the last play will be or when my ankle is going to hurt, so until that moment I just run on it and give it the best I can.”
The big question is Cobb, who remains on injured reserve-designated to return after sustaining a broken tibia during the Oct. 13 game at Baltimore. He has not been added to the roster – that would have to be done by 3 p.m. (Central) on Saturday.
During the portion of Friday’s practice that was open to reporters, Cobb took a lot of snaps, including running with the starters during a two-minute drill.
“Kind of wanted to push him as much as we could,” McCarthy said. “So, we’ll have him evaluated tomorrow. Like I told Randall before practice, ‘Let’s push it today and see how it feels tomorrow.’”
If he’s added to the roster, his availability for the game could be pushed right up to 1:55 p.m. Sunday, when the team has to turn in its inactives.
“The push has really come the last two weeks for Randall Cobb,” McCarthy said. “You can see he was coming on strong. I thought he did some good things last week, but he wasn’t ready. So, he’s fighting through the soreness and things you would expect coming back from the seriousness of his injury. But he looks good. He has fresh legs. He’s doing all the little things, the fine motor skills things he was able to stay on top of. Just as far as catching the ball, handling the football as much as he can. He looks very natural at that. We just have to make sure he’s ready to go.”
About the only bad injury news was with outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who was ruled out on Tuesday. He re-injured his broken thumb against Pittsburgh and has had surgery. McCarthy did not have a timeline.
Packers injury report
Out: OLB Clay Matthews (thumb). Probable: ILB Brad Jones (ankle), RB Eddie Lacy (ankle), DE/OLB Mike Neal (abdomen), OLB Nick Perry (foot), DT Ryan Pickett (knee), TE Andrew Quarless (ankle), QB Aaron Rodgers (collarbone), TE Jake Stoneburner (illness), TE Ryan Taylor (illness).
Bears injury report
Questionable: WR Earl Bennett (not injury related). Probable: LB Lance Briggs (shoulder).
-- The Packers filled one of their roster openings by promoting cornerback Jumal Rolle from the practice squad. The undrafted rookie from Catawba spent training camp and part of the preseason with Buffalo and served a stint on the Saints' practice squad. He signed to Green Bay's practice squad on Oct. 8.
-- McCarthy, on the benefit of naming Rodgers as the starter on Thursday rather than waiting to Friday. “Yeah, I think definitely. No. 1, I think it’s important for your team to know who the quarterback is going into the week preferably. Obviously, the coaching staff, they needed the direction earlier in the week. So, we’ve had to adjust some things as the week’s gone on, but I feel like we’re ready to go.”
-- Outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene, on Matthews: “Obviously, he’s not happy. He’s not a happy camper. I mean, he’s a professional; he understands that’s the nature of the game. It’s a bad luck deal. It’s something that everybody, when you step on that field, you take an opportunity, any play could be one that you get hurt. He understands it. It’s a bad deal, so he’s going to move on. He’ll be fine.”
-- According to online bookmaker Bovada, the Packers went from three-point underdogs to four-point favorites for Sunday because of Rodgers. Also, the Packers have moved from 28/1 to 16/1 to win the Super Bowl.
-- No Packers players were fined for penalties committed during the Pittsburgh game. Steelers tight end Matt Spaeth was fined $7,875 for unnecessary roughness at the end of A.J. Hawk’s interception.
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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.