GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Packers coach Mike McCarthy was cautious. His players seemed hopeful.
Green Bay might be getting quarterback Aaron Rodgers back soon from a collarbone injury.
But the final decision rests with the team doctor, with the help of other experts, on whether the two-time NFL MVP is healthy enough to return for the Packers’ game this weekend against Carolina.
McCarthy said there was no timeline for when medical staff will decide on potentially clearing Rodgers after the quarterback had tests and scans on his surgically repaired collarbone on Monday.
“It’s in the evaluation process … I’d like to know as soon as possible,” McCarthy said. “Frankly it’s best for Aaron to know as soon as possible. He’s the one that has to get ready, and obviously in his mind he’s ready to go if you watch him practice and the conversations with him.”
But the franchise quarterback was still waiting for medical clearance.
McCarthy said “this is a medical decision and team doctor (Pat) McKenzie is obviously in touch with a number of different medical experts and they’re evaluating the information.”
Rodgers could be eligible to be activated for Sunday, which would be eight weeks after going on injured reserve following his injury on Oct. 15 at Minnesota. The two-time NFL MVP returned to practice Dec. 2 on what McCarthy called a “trial return.” Rodgers ran the scout team last week.
“It’s going to be fun having him back,” left tackle David Bakhtiari said after the 27-21 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
The overtime victory kept Green Bay (7-6) in contention for a playoff spot, going 3-4 in games started by backup Brett Hundley.
“My No. 1 thought going into it was keep our hopes alive to make the playoffs and we’re still in it,” Hundley said after beating the Browns. “When my number’s called upon, I’ll be ready.”
It will still be a tough road to return to the postseason with three games left, whether or not Rodgers returns.
Trailing NFC North-leading Minnesota by three games, the Packers are one of four teams with at least seven wins chasing Atlanta (8-5) for the final wild-card berth.
But the sight of Rodgers back at practice has boosted spirits. Coaches and teammates have said Rodgers has looked good in practice.
He looked like a nervous and excited assistant coach on the sideline in Cleveland as he consulted with McCarthy and Hundley late in the game. Rodgers has stuck to a normal midweek preparation routine.
“But frankly, he has (spent) an extraordinary amount of time in the rehab part of it,” McCarthy said. “I think that speaks volumes, because it’s really put him in this position of where he’s at. As we all know, his rehab has been exceptional, and he looks great.”
Notes: CB Davon House suffered a significant back injury against the Browns “so he will be challenged to be ready this week,” McCarthy said. The Packers already lost another starter at cornerback, Kevin King, after placing the rookie on IR last week with a shoulder injury.
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