GREEN BAY—The Packers’ quarterback situation hasn’t changed, yet.
Aaron Rodgers is still not medically cleared, Matt Flynn will prepare as though he’s the starter, and another discussion surrounding Rodgers’ status will likely take place again on Friday.
It’s the same path the Packers followed last week, right down to Rodgers’ scheduled media time. He’ll speak to reporters again on Thursday.
“My mindset is I’m starting,” Flynn said following Wednesday’s practice. “Obviously, we all hope Aaron plays, but my mindset is I’m starting just so I can prepare myself.”
The biggest difference is the Packers’ playoff scenario, which no longer requires help to climb the pecking order. Now it’s win two to get in, beginning Sunday at home against Pittsburgh. If there’s any buffer against a potential letdown following such an emotionally charged victory last Sunday, that’s it.
“If you were to let down now, you’re in the wrong situation,” receiver Jordy Nelson said. “I don’t know why anyone would back off the pedal at all. I think guys have an extra boost of energy.”
The receivers got their own jolt of excitement as Randall Cobb returned to practice for the first time since injuring his lower leg more than two months ago in Baltimore.
Cobb remains on injured reserve with the designation to return, so he is not on the active roster, but he can practice for now. He just began running full speed about a week ago, so his return to action isn’t imminent.
Cobb gave no timetable, saying he’s “just taking it day to day right now,” but there was no hiding his joy in running a few routes and catching passes again.
“Everybody was making fun of me because I was smiling from ear to ear, getting my helmet back, getting a new pair of cleats, just being at practice,” he said. “It’s a very good day for me, I’d say. Early Christmas present for sure.”
Fellow receiver James Jones said Cobb was so excited he looked like a 12-year-old getting that Christmas present.
“It was good to see him back out there, man,” Jones said. “He just makes us better. Receiver corps better, offense better. Hopefully he can heal up fast and get back on the field and play at a high level.”
The player on the Packers offense playing at the highest level right now might be running back Eddie Lacy, who was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his 141 rushing yards at Dallas.
Still nursing a bum ankle, Lacy sat out practice on Wednesday, but there are no doubts about his availability for Sunday’s game. With the Packers’ last two regular-season games slated for the cold outdoors, Lacy’s bruising, physical running style almost becomes a necessity, even if Rodgers plays.
“Eddie is a special player,” Flynn said. “I have a front-row seat to watch him run, and it’s fun. Right now, in December, you’ve got to have it. You’ve got to have the running game.”
The Steelers have their own rookie power back in Le’Veon Bell, who was drafted 13 spots ahead of Lacy in April. Pittsburgh Head Coach Mike Tomlin said earlier this week he’d make the same choice again, but if the perceived jab is bothering Lacy, there’s no way the laid-back, borderline aloof rookie-of-the-year candidate will let it show.
“That doesn’t say nothin’ to me,” Lacy said. “They picked the guy they wanted, and I landed here. I’m very happy here and I’m doing good here, so I think it worked out for me.
“You can use it for motivation, but I’m not one to use external factors for motivation.”
The Packers’ second-half rallies in the last two games have been motivated by having the season at stake. Even if the quarterback situation changes by week’s end, the team’s motivation certainly won’t.
“We started our playoffs two weeks ago, basically,” Flynn said. “When you get backed up in a corner like that, you come out swinging. We have.” Additional coverage - Dec. 18