GREEN BAY—Aaron Rodgers was once again limited in practice, and Wednesday provided no more clarity as to whether the Packers’ starting quarterback will return from his broken collarbone on Sunday.
Mike McCarthy emphasized that Rodgers is still not medically cleared and that remains the first step before any discussions can take place about him playing in a game.
“I’m very optimistic that he’s going to get back to full strength, and when that time comes, I’m sure we’ll let everybody know about it,” McCarthy said.
“I clearly understand the importance of Aaron to the team and to the NFL, but we have to make sure we do our due diligence and go through the process of getting him healthy.”
Rodgers will be evaluated Thursday morning to see how his injury feels following Wednesday’s work, and the Packers will proceed accordingly. Rodgers normally talks with reporters on Wednesdays but he is slated to speak on Thursday this week instead.
So until at least then, the offense remains in the hands of Matt Flynn, who directed the Packers to their first Rodgers-less win of the season last week. It came down to the wire, but Flynn said he’s hoping that has given the team some momentum and extra bounce in its step.
“The really good thing to build on this past week is how big of a team win it was,” Flynn said. “It wasn’t like the offense just went out there and won the game or the defense did. All phases of the team made the plays when we needed to make them.”
In a solid effort that featured a 75 percent completion rate, Flynn felt his biggest downfall was the five sacks he took, for which he shouldered a share of the blame.
He explained that he’s trying to limit taking risks, which he has successfully, throwing just one interception in 88 pass attempts, not counting the fluke bounce off an Atlanta defender’s foot last week. But in finding a “safe throw,” he needs to recognize the defensive back’s leverage on the receiver sooner and then move on to his next read faster and “cleaner.”
“I think I was getting a little hung up on a couple receivers and didn’t get through my whole progression,” Flynn said. “A lot of that is on me. I have to do a better job and take the fall for that.”
Flynn’s biggest plays last week, including a 46-yard strike to Jordy Nelson, came off of play-action, so more production in the running game should only help. Who will take the bulk of those carries is uncertain, however.
Eddie Lacy, who played the second half against the Falcons on a bum ankle and toughed out 65 yards on 20 carries in all, sat out practice on Wednesday to do rehab. McCarthy said he might be able to practice on Friday.
Whether or not Lacy is available, it’s a good bet newly acquired running back Kahlil Bell will be active on gameday behind James Starks.
“You have to run the ball when you want to run the ball,” McCarthy said. “That’s the true test of a good run offense.”
The biggest question injury-wise on defense is at inside linebacker, where both Brad Jones (ankle) and Jamari Lattimore (knee) missed practice on Wednesday. That leaves Victor Aiyewa, recently brought up from the practice squad, as the only healthy inside linebacker alongside A.J. Hawk.
McCarthy said the medical staff is “confident” in both injured linebackers, but their on-field preparation this week will be limited at best.
That word, limited, has been attached to Rodgers since he returned to practice a couple of weeks ago. He mentioned on his radio show that he felt pain when practicing last Wednesday and didn’t do much the rest of the week, which means how much he’s able to practice on Thursday will go a long way in determining any chance he might have for Sunday.
“I can just see it in his face and everything that he’s definitely itching to get back,” Flynn said. “I know I’ve been saying that, but it’s true. He wants to be out there, and if he’s not out there, there’s a good reason for it.” Additional coverage - Dec. 11