Packers leaving Cowboys in the dark about Rodgers' status
The Green Bay Packers probably know whether quarterback Aaron Rodgers is going to play this Sunday, but they are using every allowable minute to keep the Dallas Cowboys—and everybody else—in the dark.
Coach Mike McCarthy, speaking at his post-practice press conference Thursday, said that Rodgers had not been cleared medically from a broken left collarbone suffered Nov. 4, but that he continued to make progress in practice and did more than he had on Wednesday.
But he wouldn't say much more than that.
“I know Aaron's talking today,” McCarthy said of a meeting Rodgers had scheduled with reporters following his press conference. “The specifics of how he feels and anything he wants to share with his injury situation, those questions should be for him.”
During the open locker room period that followed McCarthy's press conference, reporters camped out in front of Rodgers' locker for a half-hour before he came out to answer questions.
And what did he say when asked whether he thought he would be cleared this week?
“I think you have to talk to Mike about that one,” Rodgers said.
It would appear the coaches have seen everything they need to determine that Rodgers is ready to play football again. He has had two days of pain-free work in which he was able to practice at full speed with the No. 1 offense and both coaches and players have said he looked pretty good.
The final step would be for him to get the go-ahead from team physician Patrick McKenzie, who 10 days ago was not satisfied with the results of a CT scan and concerned with the amount of pain Rodgers was having in the shoulder after a workout.
Rodgers took a week off to allow the collarbone to heal more before taking his first snaps with the offense Wednesday.
Neither McCarthy nor Rodgers would say whether Rodgers would have a CT scan today, but both hinted strongly it would occur. Presumably, if the scan looks good, Rodgers would be cleared and take all of the first-team snaps in practice.
Rodgers said he didn't think the scan would be the only determining factor in whether he gets cleared.
“I think there's more to it than that,” he said. “But I would guess there would have to be another scan for me to be on the field.”
In the portion of practice open to reporters, Rodgers threw the ball well in individual drills and appeared to take as many or more turns than backup Matt Flynn, who will start if Rodgers doesn't. Players said he looked good for a second straight day running the offense in the team portion of practice that is closed to the media.
“He seemed to be fine,” guard Josh Sitton said. “He seemed to look good, but it's tough to judge that in a practice setting.”
It was pretty obvious both in the individual drills Rodgers went through Thursday and the comments McCarthy had afterward that there is nothing wrong with the way Rodgers is throwing the ball. A big hurdle he had to clear was being able to stick out his left arm and hand off the ball to a running back.
He was seen doing that in practice Thursday.
“Yeah, he's getting better,” McCarthy said. “He's Aaron Rodgers. The thing you appreciate is my man can throw the football. He throws the heck out of it. It's good to have him out there.”
Rodgers wouldn't say how many of the snaps he took in practice, but offensive coordinator Tom Clements said that the practice was divided into plays they thought Matt Flynn needed work on and ones Rodgers needed to work on.
He said the game plan would be essentially the same no matter which quarterback plays and wasn't worried that Flynn hadn't gotten the full complement of snaps for a starter Wednesday and Thursday.
Asked about whether he felt his mechanics and rhythm were coming back, Rodgers said there was still some rust to be removed but that he thought he threw the ball well.
“I felt a little bit rusty yesterday, took a little bit more as far as reps today and felt better,” Rodgers said. “Felt like I was moving well, I feel rested, my legs do, been able to do more in the weight room, but I felt better out there.
“(I'm) throwing it well but there's a lot that goes into it from the ground up—legs, being in the right position, footwork and stuff. Today was a better day.”
It's clear a decision will have to be made Friday morning—if it hasn't already—whether Rodgers will start Sunday. It would be dumb to split the practice reps between two quarterbacks two days before the game.
“If I'm going to play Sunday, I'm going to need to take the majority of the reps tomorrow,” Rodgers said.
If the Packers don't announce Rodgers as the starter, they would have to list him one of four ways on the injury report today—probable, questionable, doubtful or out. The NFL would have a problem if the Packers listed him probable or questionable and didn't play him since it's pretty clear they'll know what his status is today.