GREEN BAY, Wis. — This could be the week that Aaron Rodgers returns to his role as the starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. Or maybe it’s not.
With six days before the team travels to Dallas for a must-win game to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, the Packers begin their week without knowing Rodgers’ status.
“The plan for Aaron is he’s going to work out tomorrow (Tuesday) as part of his rehab,” coach Mike McCarthy said Monday afternoon. “He’ll be evaluated Wednesday morning by Dr. Pat McKenzie. I just met with the training staff before I walked in here; they’re going to do some things tomorrow that they haven’t done last week.
“He’s still not medically cleared.”
It’s been five weeks since Rodgers broke his left collarbone. Rodgers previously stated that the injury could take between 6-8 weeks to heal, so a return this Sunday would put him on the early side of that timeline.
Rodgers had three hurdles to clear before he could play in a game again: range of motion, strength and medical scans showing that his left collarbone had healed completely. As of last week, the only part of that yet to be cleared, according to Rodgers, was the scan.
“He’s progressing,” McCarthy said. “I think the biggest thing is strength — strength and comfort. He felt better Friday than he did on Wednesday. Hopefully we’ll make the same progress this week.”
Rodgers underwent his latest medical scan on Dec. 3. He will have the same scan done either Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.
Rodgers practiced in a limited fashion four times already in recent weeks, but there is a big difference between the individual drills he’s doing there and actually being able to get hit full-speed by opposing defensive players.
Knowing that Rodgers may not be ready in time for Sunday’s game, the Packers are preparing this week as if they won’t have him.
“We’re planning to play the game with Matt (Flynn),” McCarthy said. “That’s the way you have to go about it. It’s the same way we went last week. Visiting with Aaron yesterday about where he is, he has hurdles to go over and medically he’s not cleared. So we’re planning for Matt Flynn.”
Flynn has started the past two games for Green Bay. On Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions, Flynn struggled mightily, completing 10 of 20 passes for 139 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. But in Sunday’s win over the Atlanta Falcons, Flynn was much improved, connecting on 24 of his 32 passes for 258 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
With a 6-6-1 record and still needing to pass the 7-6 Lions for the NFC North lead, the Packers might have to continue on without Rodgers for a while longer.
“By the way we’ve always done it; that’s with medical clearance,” McCarthy said of clearing Rodgers for game action. “Obviously, when a player is in a rehab position, there’s conversations, and obviously all the testing is done. That meeting goes on and ultimately Pat has to clear him; Dr. McKenzie has to clear the player.”