Rodgers was listed as doubtful on Friday’s injury report, defined as “at least a 75 percent chance he will not play,” but McCarthy wasn’t ready to make any declarations of who will be the Packers’ starting quarterback on Sunday night.
“Just as I’ve stated all week, we’re prepared to play the game with Matt Flynn as our starter,” McCarthy said. “We’ve started that process since Monday. As far as an update on Aaron Rodgers, he’s progressing through the medical process. He was able to attend probably three-quarters of the practice today, and he’ll continue to work through that process today and tomorrow.
“I’m hopeful to make a decision by tomorrow, but the door is open for Aaron Rodgers to play in the game. It really comes down to two things. No. 1, he has to be cleared medically, and Dr. John Gray will have the final say on that. And if he does make it to that point, then (I) will make a decision on whether he plays or not. Right now he’s still working through the medical part.”
The first hurdle that Rodgers has to clear as part of the concussion protocol is a conditioning test, but McCarthy declined to say whether the quarterback had done that yet.
“He’s working his way through the process,” McCarthy said. “I really don’t want to get into specifics of that. There are stages that you work through. If you’re educated on it, that’s great. This is really a standard policy as far as the details.
“If Aaron wants to share the step-by-step process that he’s going through, that’s fine. But he’s making progress, and I talked to him today. He looks good, would like to play. But once again, him and Dr. John Gray are working through this, and until he’s cleared medically, then it comes to me.”
McCarthy had stated throughout the week that Rodgers’ availability would not be a decision that the team would take up until game-time, but on Friday he said that it wouldn’t necessarily be one that is made before the team departs for New England on Saturday afternoon. McCarthy said Rodgers will make the trip with the team.
“There’s not a written script for this,” McCarthy said. “The goal as I stated Monday, Wednesday and Thursday would be to make a decision by Saturday. But with the late start Sunday, we can leave the door open for that.”
The concussion that Rodgers suffered last Sunday was his second of the season, with the first coming in Week 5 at Washington. McCarthy said Friday that Rodgers will be wearing a different helmet moving forward, but didn’t provide specifics on what those differences were. Rodgers was in the locker room during the media-availability period on Friday, but declined comment.
If Rodgers is unable to play on Sunday night, Flynn will be making his first career start. He saw the most extensive action of his career at Detroit last Sunday as he played the final series of the first half and the entire second half, completing 15-of-26 passes for 177 yards and an interception. Practice-squad quarterback Graham Harrell would likely be added to the active roster if Rodgers is ruled out, but McCarthy said earlier in the week that he didn’t expect to make any roster moves until Saturday.
A different year
It hasn’t been the kind of season wide receiver Donald Driver has become accustomed to over the past several years, but you won’t hear the veteran complaining about his statistics.
Driver entered this season with six straight 1,000-yard seasons, a franchise record, and as one of only two NFL players (Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne) to hit the 1,000-yard mark in each of the past six seasons. With three games to go, Driver has 449 yards receiving on 40 catches (11.2 avg.) for the season.
“You get to a point where you can still enjoy the game and you don’t have to get 100 balls,” Driver said. “You don’t have to have a 1,000-yard season to feel like you produced. I think I have done everything that I could. I have played well. Unfortunately I got the quad injury. It set me back a game and I missed one.
“I think you’ve still got to have fun. I think that is the biggest thing. When you start getting to a point where you start nitpicking everything and, ‘Oh, I want this, I want that,’ that’s when you start having problems.”
Driver originally injured his quadriceps in practice leading up to the Week 6 contest vs. Miami, but started the next three games. He aggravated it in the first half of the Week 8 game at the N.Y. Jets and was forced to sit out the next week against Dallas, his first game missed due to injury since 2003, before returning at Minnesota following the bye.
Driver has had his moments this season, most notably a spectacular 61-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown vs. San Francisco in Week 13, but he hasn’t posted a 100-yard game since Week 12 last year at Detroit. The last time he didn’t register at least one 100-yard game in a season was 2001.
Driver entered the season No. 2 in the franchise record books for receiving yards, trailing James Lofton by 606 yards for the Green Bay career record. Driver joked that a lot of people jinxed him by thinking he would break Lofton’s record around the midway point of the season. He needs 158 yards in the final three contests to set the record, but said he is OK if that chance doesn’t come until next season.
“I know (Lofton) doesn’t want that record to be broken,” Driver said. “It’s been up there for a long time. If I can get it, it would be a great accomplishment for myself. I would be happy that I took down a good man.
“It would mean everything. The same thing when I broke Sterling’s (Sharpe) record (for receptions). To come here as a seventh-round draft pick, no one thought that I would be a part of this team, of this tradition. Now when people say who are the Packers’ great receivers, my name gets mentioned in that same bunch. That’s going to put a big smile on my face.”
Earlier this week, the Big Ten Conference announced the creation of 18 trophies for various awards starting in 2011, and Packers cornerback Charles Woodson will see his name etched on one of them.
The conference’s top defensive honor will be named the Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year after Woodson and Bronko Nagurski, a three-time All-American at the University of Minnesota from 1927-29.
As a junior in 1997, Woodson led Michigan to a perfect 12-0 season and a national championship, and he became the first primarily defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy.
Two other former Packers were selected for trophies, with former wide receiver/kick returner Desmond Howard (1996, 1999) part of the Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year Award along with former Wisconsin wide receiver/tight end Pat Richter, and running back Darrell Thompson 1990-94) on the Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year Award with Indiana quarterback Antwaan Randle El.
Defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calf) will be out for the second straight game, while Rodgers and linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) are doubtful. McCarthy said third-year man Erik Walden will start at right outside linebacker in Zombo’s place, which would be the first start of his career.
Linebacker Diyral Briggs (ankle) was added to the injury report on Friday and is questionable. Cornerback Pat Lee (ankle) and safety Anthony Smith (ankle) are also questionable.
Safety Atari Bigby (hamstring), tackle Chad Clifton (knees), guard Daryn Colledge (knee), fullback Korey Hall (knee), linebacker Clay Matthews (shin), defensive end Ryan Pickett (ankle), guard Josh Sitton (knee) and Woodson (toe/ankle) are all probable. Bigby last played at Minnesota in Week 10.
Colledge was upgraded to a full participant after being limited on Thursday.
“I thought he practiced well,” McCarthy said. “I fully anticipate Daryn to play and start in the game unless there’s a setback here in the next 48 hours.”
Linebacker Desmond Bishop (hamstring) was also added to the report on Friday, but he is probable.
For New England, defensive lineman Ron Brace (concussion), tight end Aaron Hernandez (flu), cornerback Devin McCourty (rib), nose tackle Myron Prior (back), defensive lineman Gerard Warren (knee) and defensive lineman Mike Wright (concussion) are questionable. Hernandez was added to the report on Friday.
Cornerback Kyle Arrington (elbow), quarterback Tom Brady (right shoulder/foot), wide receiver Deion Branch (knee) and cornerback Darius Butler (thigh) are probable. Butler was also added to the report on Friday.
Additional coverage - Dec. 17