GREEN BAY—The decision on Aaron Rodgers’ playing status should come “sooner than later” this week, Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday.
The pattern for the last few weeks has been to have Rodgers participate in practice on Wednesday and Thursday, with a decision on his availability made Friday morning. Rodgers has been ruled out every Friday thus far and has yet to play since breaking his left collarbone on Nov. 4.
With McCarthy giving the players Wednesday off this week for Christmas, the Packers won’t conduct an on-field practice until Thursday.
So, given McCarthy’s desire to speed up what has been the weekly drawn-out process, chances are Rodgers and the Packers will know whether or not he’s playing in Sunday’s winner-takes-the-NFC-North game in Chicago before the first practice snap of the week on Thursday.
“I think it’s important for us to make a quicker decision,” McCarthy said. “This has obviously been frustrating, stressful for Aaron, rightfully so. But also, our football team, I want them to know who the quarterback is going to be.”
Last week, based on what he saw in practice, McCarthy declared Rodgers “ready to play,” but Rodgers still has not been medically cleared. Sunday’s game will be one day shy of eight weeks since the fracture occurred.
“After seeing Aaron practice for two weeks, this is something Ted Thompson and I need to sit down and we need to assess all the information and decide if it’s time for him to play,” McCarthy said. “Aaron wants to play, has wanted to play for the last couple weeks. He fully accepts, understands everything going on with his injury.”
In other injury news, McCarthy had no update on outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who re-injured his previously broken thumb despite wearing a protective cast. All McCarthy said is the medical staff “didn’t feel very good about the injury.”
Running back Eddie Lacy’s ankle remains “sore” but more won’t be known until later in the week. Receiver Randall Cobb, who remains on injured reserve with the designation to return, will take more reps in practice this week after coming back to practice last week for the first time in more than two full months.
Revisiting the chaotic final 10 seconds of Sunday’s 38-31 loss to the Steelers, McCarthy was bothered by the fact that referee Carl Cheffers and umpire Undrey Wash didn’t coordinate their “mechanics” as far as starting the clock after the 10-second penalty runoff and allowing Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith to snap the ball.
The Packers only got one play off from the 6-yard line, an incomplete slant pass to Jarrett Boykin, and McCarthy clearly believes there should have been time for at least one more snap.
“The referee and the umpire need to be on the same page,” McCarthy said. “Dietrich(-Smith) was informed, don’t snap the ball until the umpire pointed at him. The umpire pointed at him at three seconds.
“It just wasn’t coordinated. I’m not trying to get in trouble here or anything, but it doesn’t take 10 seconds to run a three-step drop pass. I think we all understand that.”
Equally frustrating, if not moreso, were the two critical pre-snap penalties that couldn’t have come at worse times – the false start that necessitated the 10-second runoff in the waning moments, and the offside call on Nick Perry on a Steelers field goal attempt with 1:35 left that gave Pittsburgh a first-and-goal.
“I think we were the sixth team to jump offsides on a field goal against the Steelers,” McCarthy said. “Give them credit for that, but there’s no excuse for Nick to do that.”
There’s also no ambiguity about what’s at stake in Week 17 at Soldier Field, despite the team’s constantly changing circumstances since the calendar turned to December.
The Packers have gone from needing to win and get help to controlling their own destiny with two games left to surrendering their fate for three hours on Sunday night to now finding themselves in a win-and-get-in game.
“We’re playing for the division championship. It’s been a wild ride so far, and I’d like to think we’re just getting started,” McCarthy said. “That’s what I’m selling. Hopefully, they’re buying it.”