One hurdle down. Another one to go.
The Green Bay Packers managed to keep their slender playoff hopes alive, moving to 7-6 with an overtime victory in Cleveland. As for the other hurdle, it’s now a matter of whether medicine, nature and diligent rehab can conspire to bring Aaron Rodgers back to the field next week.
On Sunday, Coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t giving any hint as to whether Rodgers would be medically cleared to play again, nearly eight weeks after he broke the collarbone on his throwing shoulder.
“We love Aaron Rodgers, but I will not answer any questions about him today,” McCarthy said. “This is about winning the game. He’s still in a medical situation, and as soon as we have the information, I’ll give it to you.”
That is likely to come early this week with the results of an upcoming CT scan. The test comes one week after Rodgers first returned to practice.
Just as he did when he first threw passes before the Sunday night game Nov. 26, Rodgers looked impressive, running the scout team and zipping the ball on long passes. His teammates and coaches were raving, but the CT scan and not the eye will determine whether Rodgers can play Sunday against Carolina. And no doubt the Packers will weigh the risk to the quarterback against the possibility of making the postseason, which would no doubt require running the table the last three games.
Rodgers, who was injured Oct. 15, had surgery four days later in which two plates and 13 screws were placed on the collarbone. His recovery has followed a template, with Week 15 the target date all along for a possible return. If the scan shows that the bone has healed significantly enough, he would presumably be medically cleared to warrant a return against the Panthers, Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions.
Rodgers has not spoken with the media since he returned to the team after surgery in early November, but he was careful to temper expectations then, based on the broken collarbone he suffered in 2013. That one required no surgery and was to his non-throwing shoulder.
“First of all, I want to be healthy; that’s the most important thing,” Rodgers said in early November. “But if we’re healthy in eight weeks [after the injury] and it would make sense to come back, then I’m going to come back.” He added that, just as in 2013, “there won’t be a decision made until that bone is healed, so it’s not even a conversation if it’s not where it needs to be.”
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