NFL: Packers not ruling out Rodgers to play Sunday
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) – Aaron Rodgers was noticeably alert and upbeat as he walked across the locker room after the Green Bay Packers’ practice Friday.
Asked if he might play at New England on Sunday night, the quarterback didn’t say a word but flashed a smile and shrugged his shoulders.
The Packers listed Rodgers as doubtful to play against the Patriots a week after he suffered his second concussion of the season.
Coach Mike McCarthy isn’t ruling him out, however.
“The door is open for Aaron Rodgers to play in the game,” McCarthy said.
Rodgers didn’t practice this week, but McCarthy said the Pro Bowl player is progressing in his recovery from the head injury that knocked him out of the loss at Detroit last Sunday.
“He’s working his way through the process,” McCarthy said. “There are stages that you work through. But he’s making progress, and I talked to him today. He looks good (and) would like to play.”
Although McCarthy said the team has been preparing since Monday to have Matt Flynn make his first NFL start, the coach stopped short of naming a starter for the game against the Patriots.
McCarthy is hoping to make that decision by Saturday, after he waits to see how Rodgers checks out with further mandatory post-concussion evaluations and testing administered by Packers team doctor John Gray as well as an independent neurologist.
Rodgers’ prospects for extending his starting streak to 47 games (including the playoffs) – he hasn’t missed a game since replacing Brett Favre as the starter at the beginning of the 2008 season – hinge on two things, McCarthy said.
“Number one, he has to be cleared medically, and Dr. John Gray will have the final say on that,” McCarthy said. “And if he does make it to that point, then myself will make a decision on whether he plays or not. Right now, he’s still working through the medical part.”
Rodgers suffered his first concussion in an overtime loss at Washington on Oct. 10. He was cleared to return to practice four days later and made the start in Green Bay’s next game.
After having one of their top players afflicted by multiple concussions in a short time frame, McCarthy said the Packers changed out Rodgers’ helmet this week to one that provides better protection for his head.
“He’ll be wearing a new helmet from this time moving forward,” McCarthy said.
Rodgers’ condition seemed to take a turn for the better Friday.
McCarthy said Rodgers sat in on the start of meetings before practice after the quarterback wasn’t involved in meetings and film review the previous two days.
Also, McCarthy revealed Rodgers attended three-quarters of the practice after reporters had left the team’s indoor practice facility.
“I got to talk with him a little bit,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “I didn’t just come out and say, ‘Hey, are you playing this weekend?’ I just asked him how he felt (and he said) he’s getting better, he feels good.”
Receiver Donald Driver, who admitted earlier this week that he urged Rodgers to not go back into the last game after he suffered the concussion late in the first half, said he is in favor of Rodgers playing Sunday if he’s cleared to do so.
“It’s basically up to him and the doctors,” Driver said. “Would I love him to play? Yeah. But if he can’t, then we can roll with Matt Flynn. I think that’s how you have to look at it.”
Flynn didn’t make himself available to reporters after Friday’s practice.
Teammates voiced their support of Flynn throughout the week if he is called upon to make his first start since leading LSU as a senior to victory over Ohio State in the BCS national championship Jan. 7, 2008.
“I think we had fun (this week),” Driver said. “It didn’t slow anything down. Everything was kept the same. The pace was like going with Aaron. You’d think you would have to nix some things and work some things out, but no. It was just like we don’t miss a beat.”