Aaron Rodgers, along with a Packers team and fan base waiting anxiously, will soon know whether or not he can play in Sunday’s game against the Panthers.
Head coach Mike McCarthy spoke to the media on Monday and addressed the elephant in the room – his two-time MVP quarterback, who’s been out for two months with a broken right collarbone. Rodgers is eligible to return from injured reserve this week, but his medical clearance will be determined – probably on Tuesday, according to McCarthy – by team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie.
"There's a number of scans, testing that went in this morning," McCarthy said. "It's now in the evaluation stage. Dr. McKenzie is reviewing it. There are a number of opinions that will be involved and a decision, so at this time I do not have a clean decision for you or an update. That's where it stands."
McCarthy added that McKenzie would also consult with several specialists. He said he didn't have a timeline for when a medical determination would be made but joked that, "If I don’t know tomorrow, we’re going to be putting Pat McKenzie on IR."
For his own timeline, Rodgers has seemed to be right on schedule. After breaking his collarbone on Oct. 15 against the Vikings, the veteran quarterback underwent successful surgery on Oct. 19, when he had 13 screws and plates inserted to stabilize the clavicle.
Before the Packers’ Nov. 26 game against the Steelers, Rodgers was seen throwing long passes, which prompted Clay Matthews to say Green Bay shouldn’t even have placed him on injured reserve. On Dec. 2, Rodgers returned to practice, and last week he participated all week as the scout-team quarterback.
McCarthy said the Packers began preparing for Carolina late last week, as usual, and would adjust their game plan once they knew Rodgers’ status. The coach said Rodgers believes he’s ready and wants to play, but the decision was in the doctors’ hands and Green Bay will not risk its franchise player getting reinjured if the bone isn’t healed.
"It's in the evaluation process," McCarthy said. "I don't have an answer for you. I'd like to know as soon as possible. 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 this is a medical decision, and Dr. McKenzie is obviously in touch with a number of different medical experts and they're evaluating the information.
"At the end of the day, the organization is focused on doing what’s in the best interests of Aaron Rodgers’ health."
If Rodgers is not cleared, the Packers will start Brett Hundley at quarterback for the eighth straight game. Hundley, who’s struggled as a passer but has led Green Bay to two important overtime victories in a row after beating Cleveland on Sunday, has gone 3-4 in place of Rodgers and kept the team’s slim playoff hopes alive.
We’ll likely know by tomorrow if Rodgers can play; until then, pass the time by getting excited reading these recent quotes from some of his Packers teammates, gushing over their quarterback.
Linebacker Clay Matthews: "The way he's coming along, some of the balls he's throwing, accuracy-wise, everything a quarterback has to do is pretty remarkable."
Running back Jamaal Williams: "That boy, he came back, and he just flicked it. I was like, ‘Dang!’ I was like, ‘Wow! Are you sure that man is injured?’ I was like, ‘That is far! I couldn’t even do that on my good day.’ I mean, he flicked it. I feel like he didn’t even throw it. He just flicked it."
Defensive lineman Quinton Dial: "I can’t tell you how he feels, but from what I saw, he looks like himself."
Left tackle David Bahktiari: "On our side, we’ve just got to make sure we take care of business for him, so when he comes back he can really give us that jolt on the field with his presence, and that will be big."
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.