GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers have ruled out quarterback Aaron Rodgers, without officially ruling him out.
At least, that’s what logic would tell you based on what was said Wednesday, as the team returned to practice in advance of Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field.
Rodgers, who broke his collarbone Nov. 4 against Chicago, underwent an x-ray and CT scan on Tuesday. Both he and coach Mike McCarthy then said after those tests that Rodgers had not been medically cleared to play Sunday, but that he would practice on Wednesday on a limited basis – which he did – and would not be officially ruled out.
Then came Wednesday afternoon, when McCarthy was asked if Rodgers would be scanned again later this week.
“No,” McCarthy replied. “We’re not going to continue doing that.”
So if Rodgers hasn’t been medically cleared, and the Packers aren’t going to put him through another CT scan, then how exactly is he going to gain medical clearance to play against the Falcons?
The short answer: He’s not.
Thus, even though Falcons coach Mike Smith said in a conference call with Wisconsin reporters Wednesday that he’s preparing his team to face Rodgers, it’ll be Matt Flynn under center come game day.
"We’re anticipating that he’s going to play this week. I know that there was information that came out (Tuesday) that said that he wasn’t cleared, but he’s not been ruled out. We’re taking that that he’s playing," Smith said. "That’s what our preparation has got to be. He can distribute the ball, he makes everyone around him so much better. He understands Mike’s offense, he gets them into the best play.
"It’s fun to watch him as a coach stand over the ball and look and try to dissect what you’re trying to defensively. Once that ball’s snapped, he’s got the ability to extend plays. He’s got such a quick release. He will be a big challenge for us on Sunday.”
The Packers just aren’t quite ready to tell Smith that it'll be Flynn, although McCarthy came close at the end of his press briefing.
“Really until Aaron Rodgers is cleared medically, we have to be practical about it,” McCarthy said in the final answer of the news conference. “But he wants the opportunity to try to grow as far as each and every day. That’s what we’ll try to do. We’ll try to do a little more each day and we’ll see what happens.”
Asked at his locker what the chances are that he’d be medically cleared this week, Rodgers was evasive, saying, “I don’t want to put any chances on it. I think it’s a collaborative thing where we have to make sure we’re all on the same page and get cleared medically before I can get on the field.”
According to Rodgers, there are three components to him being cleared to play – and the scan didn’t show what he’d hoped it would.
“There were three parts to it: The strength, the range of motion and the evidence that we see on the scan,” Rodgers said. “Two out of three are passed so far."
Asked if he could be a game-time decision, Rodgers said no.
“I don’t think that’s fair to Matt if we do that,” Rodgers said. “I think by Friday or Saturday at the latest there will be a decision.”
Rodgers did participate in all the individual drills during Wednesday’s practice, while Flynn took the starter’s snaps in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills. Rodgers, for instance, took quarterback-center exchanges from JC Tretter and Garth Gerhart in the portion of practice open to the media, while Flynn took them from starting center Evan Dietrich-Smith.
The Packers are 0-4-1 since Rodgers broke his collarbone at the end of the team’s first offensive series against the Bears. That drive ended in a field goal that gave the Packers a 3-0 lead.
“It’s tough not to be out there with the guys. I think that’s where the frustration lies,” Rodgers said. “It’s tough to not see us winning football games, but, you know, I need to take some of my own advice: Worry about the things you can control. I can’t control the healing of my bone. That’s frustrating. But I’ve been preparing as if I was going to play every week and trying to help Matt and Scott (Tolzien) out as much as I possibly can. But it’s been tough to not see us winning football games.”
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