Rodgers: Medical, organizational decision for Green Bay
By Genaro C. Armas
GREEN BAY — Aaron Rodgers looked fine on the practice field Thursday. It doesn’t mean he is going to play.
There was no definitive word on whether Rodgers will be medically cleared to return from his left collarbone injury in time for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was just another day in the guessing game called “When Will the Franchise Quarterback Return” for the Packers.
Coach Mike McCarthy indicated he would name his starter Friday.
Rodgers also made several references to his playing status being an “organizational decision.”
“Just a Thursday practice, didn’t take a lot of reps with the teams but felt pretty good out there, was feeling good,” Rodgers said. “It’s obviously a medical decision and an organizational decision at this point.”
Flat out, Aaron: Will you be playing Sunday?
“It’s a medical decision, it’s an organizational decision,” said Rodgers, who is listed as “limited” on the official practice report.
During a brief portion of practice open to media Thursday, Rodgers did a little stretching and looked sharp in position drills. He watched as backup Matt Flynn led the offense during another short practice period.
“Aaron Rodgers practiced well today. Tomorrow is — we have the medical meetings on Wednesday and Friday, so we’ll have a conversation tomorrow,” McCarthy said. “Obviously, today he’s still not medically cleared. Looked very good at practice. I would state him ready to play.”
Flynn took the majority of the reps Thursday, McCarthy said. Flynn has said he’s preparing this week as if he’ll start.
By all accounts, Rodgers is itching to return. He hasn’t played since getting knocked out of the first series of a 27-20 loss Nov. 4 to the Bears.
Green Bay started 0-4-1 without him before rallying for two straight come-from-behind victories to get back into the NFC North race. Flynn has played well late in games to lead the Packers, but knows full well that Rodgers gets the job back whenever he’s cleared.
“We want him back when he’s healthy and ready to go, and look forward to that,” receiver Jordy Nelson said. “Hopefully if it’s not this week, we can keep winning, and give him another opportunity.”
For Rodgers, the frustration level goes down when he’s back out there on the practice field with his teammates. He would much rather have the ball in his hands than holding a clipboard on Sundays.
He came close to being cleared last week. Asked about his progress, Rodgers said he had had completed about every pass in practice after throwing a few clunkers last week.
“At this point, I have to focus on the things I can control and that’s practicing well, taking care of my business in the weight room, preparing, being a good teammate,” Rodgers said.
The Packers made a big investment in Rodgers this past offseason, signing him to a five-year contract extension through the 2019 season worth as much as $110 million. The 2011 NFL MVP, who turned 30 this month, led the Packers to a 5-2 start despite a litany of injuries elsewhere on the team. Receiver Randall Cobb, tight end Jermichael Finley and linebacker Clay Matthews were among those who got hurt before Rodgers went down.
Rodgers said he hasn’t had any setbacks. When asked, Rodgers said he had a “good sense” of whether he would be cleared. And that would be?
“Yeah, that’s another Mike McCarthy question there for tomorrow,” he said.
There is at least definitive word on defensive lineman Johnny Jolly, who is out with shoulder and neck injuries that McCarthy termed as “significant.” Jolly left in the first half of last week’s 37-36 win over Dallas and never returned.
Jolly made 38 tackles this season, and was a key player during those spurts this year when the Packers were stopping the run. Jolly turned into an inspiration on the team, working his way back after having been away from the game three years following his suspension by the NFL for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
“Johnny loves football, so he was down at first. He’s pretty cheery, he’s up now,” fellow linemen Ryan Pickett said. “He’ll bounce back. He’ll be back next year.”