Rodgers’ Practice Availability TBD

Regardless of when and how much he practices this week, the Packers are confident that Aaron Rodgers will be ready for Sunday's playoff showdown against Dallas. (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY)

There’s little doubt that Aaron Rodgers will be the Green Bay Packers’ starting quarterback for Sunday’s playoff game against Dallas.

There is some doubt on when Rodgers will practice this week.

Last week, coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers wouldn’t practice “until Thursday, probably, at the earliest” because of the calf re-injury sustained last Sunday against Detroit.

On Monday, McCarthy seemingly left the door open that Rodgers could practice on Wednesday, when the team hits the practice field for the first time to get ready for the Cowboys.

“Aaron Rodgers is progressing. He had a hip in his hop today,” McCarthy said. “We'll have an evaluation Wednesday morning by Dr. (Pat) McKenzie and then we'll set a plan for the week.”

When asked to clarify whether the plan was for Rodgers to practice on Thursday, McCarthy said, “We don’t have a plan.”

Whether he practices Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday — and regardless of how many practice reps he takes — the team seems confident that Rodgers will be prepared. With 16 regular-season games under his belt this season — not to mention training camp and the preseason — Rodgers shouldn’t have any timing issues with his receivers.

“We’ve been together for seven years and have a lot of time together,” receiver Jordy Nelson said. “He didn’t practice much last week and it wasn’t an issue. We’ll still be in meeting rooms together. A lot of it’s mental anyway right now. We’ve had plenty of reps, a lot of time together. We’ll be able to go out and play.”

Rodgers’ history of playing well with limited or zero practice reps dates to his first season as the starting quarterback. After sustaining a sprained left shoulder at Tampa Bay in Week 4 of the 2008 season, Rodgers surprised the coaches by being back under center the following week against Atlanta. Rodgers didn’t practice for about a month, offensive coordinator Tom Clements recalled. He responded with three consecutive games with a passer rating of at least 104, including against the Falcons.

“The Atlanta game, to me, was a big hurdle for Aaron and it’s a big hurdle for any coach when you go through it for the first time with your quarterback,” McCarthy said. “I can clearly remember, we went down to the Hutson Center the morning of the game and tried out a different harness that he was going to wear and he went through this big workout.

“Aaron and I still laugh about it. I said, ‘Hey, I won’t call any deep throws until I know you’re comfortable throwing the ball.’ Shoot, early in the game, we had a third-and-1 and it was a shot play and I called a deep post and he went back — he kind of looked at me when I called it and I thought, ‘Oh, I forgot what I had told him earlier in the day.’ And he went back and ripped it and it was a big play (for a 44-yard touchdown to Donald Driver). I think that gave him the confidence and he went clear sailing.”

As for this week, backup quarterback Matt Flynn — who rallied the Packers to a 37-36 win at Dallas last season when Rodgers was out with a broken collarbone — said he’ll prepare like normal.

But, he added: “I don’t know if we’re going to have to worry about that.”

Nor did McCarthy, who figured his quarterback would be in “pretty good shape” for Sunday’s game.

Regardless of practice time or limitations in mobility, Nelson didn’t think Rodgers’ injury would have much of an impact on the offense that Green Bay rolls onto the field on Sunday.

“We’re still going to rely on our offensive line to protect, which they’ve done a great job,” Nelson said. “We’ll just get into our timing routes and make sure we create separation and allow him to get rid of the ball. I think he’s made adjustments to his game, if need be, if it’s hitting his checkdowns quicker or whatever it is, but I think it’s still going to be the same game plan that we’ve had all year, if not the last two weeks where we’ve had to deal with this.”

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


Packer Report Top Stories