Rodgers, who sustained a concussion on Green Bay’s final offensive play at Washington last Sunday, is listed as probable after practicing fully on Friday and passing all of the required tests in order to be cleared. He is currently tied for fifth among active quarterbacks with the 37 straight regular-season starts.
“From my perspective, I would say he’s ready to go,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “But ultimately, it’s a medical decision. Unless there’s any type of setback between now and the game, I anticipate Aaron to play on Sunday.”
The prognosis isn’t as bright for Matthews, with the NFL sack leader (8½ sacks) missing practice for the third straight day on Friday due to an injured hamstring. Even though the second-year linebacker is listed as doubtful, McCarthy said the team will take its decision on Matthews’ availability all the way up until Sunday morning.
“I talked to Clay this morning before he went into treatments, and we’ll give him all the way up to gametime to see if he can go,” McCarthy said. “But he’s making progress. He’s close.”
If Matthews isn’t able to play, it would be the first time in his pro career that he missed a game due to injury. Much like last week when Matthews left in the third quarter with the injury, McCarthy said the plan is to utilize a combination of Brad Jones, Brady Poppinga and Frank Zombo at the two outside linebacker spots, and how much the defense is in its base lineup and sub packages will factor into that as well. Linebacker Robert Francois, who was signed from the practice squad on Wednesday, is also working on the outside to provide some depth there if needed.
“You can’t replace a Clay Matthews,” said Zombo, who ranks second on the team and tied for second among NFL rookies with two sacks. “It is definitely going to be a challenge because they have some great offensive tackles. I think with our game plan and what we have watched on film, I think we are going to be ready.
“Us three, I think we have a bunch of different things we bring to the table. I think we’ll be little change-ups here and there and I think we’ll be all right.”
Tight end Donald Lee has never missed a game in his NFL career due to injury, and although that streak appeared to be in doubt, the veteran sounds ready to go on Sunday.
Lee sustained a chest sprain when he landed awkwardly after he fumbled on the opening drive at Washington last Sunday, and the prognosis earlier in the week was that he could miss a couple of weeks with the injury. After sitting out Wednesday’s practice and participating on a limited basis on Thursday, Lee practiced fully on Friday and is listed as probable.
Lee said he was in so much pain on Monday that he was having trouble putting his socks and shoes on, but he started to feel better on Tuesday after doing treatment and some workouts in the pool. With starting tight end Jermichael Finley out for a significant period of time due to a knee injury, Lee was focused on getting back on the field as quickly as possible.
“I try to take care of myself and stay healthy and be available whenever they need me,” Lee said. “Injuries are a part of the game, but I really feel like I needed to do my best to get back out there because you’ve got guys depending on you.”
A familiar face
With the uncertain status of defensive ends Ryan Pickett and Mike Neal for Sunday due to injuries, the Packers brought back a player that has plenty of familiarity with their system.
Defensive end Michael Montgomery, a sixth-round pick by the team in 2005 who played five seasons in Green Bay, was re-signed by the Packers on Friday morning.
The 27-year-old Montgomery played in 56 games with eight starts for the Packers, but was released by the team in March. He signed with Minnesota later that month and spent the preseason with the Vikings, but was let go in the final roster cutdown in early September.
Since being released by Minnesota, Montgomery said he has been working out in Houston with Packers defensive end Johnny Jolly, who is currently serving a suspension for at least the remainder of this season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Montgomery and Jolly were teammates at Texas A&M.
“I’ve been staying in shape and preparing for this moment,” Montgomery said. “I was familiar with this all last year. I’m just getting in the groove of getting my stance and my hands and coming off, just getting back.”
Pickett (ankle) and Neal (shoulder) are both questionable for Sunday, so if they are inactive, it is possible that backups C.J. Wilson, Jarius Wynn and Montgomery could all suit up behind starters Cullen Jenkins and B.J. Raji.
“I’m going to look at it as I am playing. If things happen and I don’t, I let them know that I’ll be ready.”
Linebacker Nick Barnett, who underwent wrist surgery on Wednesday morning, was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Friday.
Finley and linebacker Brandon Chillar are out for Sunday, and Matthews and tackle Mark Tauscher are doubtful. Rookie Bryan Bulaga is expected to get his second straight start at right tackle in place of Tauscher if he can’t play.
Rodgers, Lee, tackle Chad Clifton (knee), safety Nick Collins (knee), Jenkins (hand/hamstring), fullback Quinn Johnson (glute), cornerback Sam Shields (calf) and cornerback Charles Woodson (toe) are probable.
Wide receiver Donald Driver was added to the report on Friday with a quad injury, but he is probable.
For Miami, defensive end Jared Odrick (ankle) is questionable while linebacker Channing Crowder (groin) and tackle Jake Long (knee) are probable for Sunday.
Additional coverage – Oct. 15