Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Surge of hope in Green Bay

QB Rodgers will be back for title game with Bears

  • Print

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers has been cleared to return from a left collarbone injury, just in time to start Sunday for the Packers against the Chicago Bears in a game to decide the NFC North title.

With no advance warning and little fanfare, the franchise quarterback received the long-awaited good news at the same time as the rest of his teammates Thursday.

"This is a fun day for me, but I think the focus needs to be on this game and the opportunity we have to win the division," Rodgers said.

Soon enough. But the spotlight for now is squarely on the return of one of the NFL's most irreplaceable players.

Green Bay (7-7-1) is 2-5-1 since Rodgers went down during the first series of a 27-20 loss Nov. 4 to Chicago. The Packers have managed to hang on, with a shot to win a third straight division title with a victory Sunday at Soldier Field.

"I'll start with the announcement that we're preparing for the Chicago Bears with Aaron Rodgers as our starting quarterback," coach Mike McCarthy told reporters Thursday after practice.

Win and Green Bay returns to Lambeau Field the following weekend to host a wild-card team in the first round of the playoffs.

"We're in it. You know we have a chance against our rivals, and what a better way than to go down there and get some redemption and host a home playoff game," Rodgers said.

The last two months have been filled with angst for Packers fans. Discussions about whether Rodgers should risk future injury or return to bolster Green Bay's playoff chances have filled sports talk radio shows and holiday office parties.

Now imagine what it was like for the Packers' brass and team doctor. The organization made a big investment in Rodgers this past off-season, signing him to a five-year contract extension through the 2019 season worth as much as $110 million.

"Every football player that plays in this game Sunday will have risk. I think we all understand that," McCarthy said. "So we've done our due diligence. We've gone through all the evaluations and we feel it is time. Aaron is ready to play."

Finally at 8:05 a.m. Thursday, McCarthy gave the official word at a team meeting. No rousing speeches or rounds of applause.

"The scene? We were sitting in the team room and he told us," Rodgers said matter-of-factly. "That was the scene."

Rodgers is returning just when pass-rushing linebacker Clay Matthews is leaving the lineup again with a right thumb injury. Green Bay also has gone the majority of the season without tight end Jermichael Finley (neck). Projected starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga went down in training camp. Defensive end Johnny Jolly (shoulder/neck) was the latest Packer to get knocked out for the year last week.

Still, the Packers managed to start 5-2 despite the injuries with Rodgers leading the offence.

Things changed drastically after the 2011 NFL MVP got hurt on a sack while scrambling out of the pocket in the Week 9 loss to Chicago at Lambeau Field. The Packers went on a five-game winless skid, shuffling through three more starting quarterbacks.

Green Bay then won two straight with backup Matt Flynn before falling 38-31 last week to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Losses by Chicago and the Detroit Lions set up the winner-take-all finale Sunday with the Bears for the division.

Rodgers' impending return wasn't the only good injury news Thursday in Titletown.

Rookie running back Eddie Lacy was held out of practice with a lingering ankle injury, though McCarthy expects his 1,100-yard rusher to play Sunday. Playmaking receiver Randall Cobb, out since Week 6 with a leg injury, is moving well in practice and appears to be getting closer to returning.

While he won't make the final call, Cobb said "This week in practice I'm going out and preparing to play."

And now with Rodgers back, positive vibes are reverberating through the locker-room.

Rodgers has gained added perspective from having to watch from the sideline. He understands every move he makes in Chicago will be dissected by armchair quarterbacks.

"It's easy to talk about it with you guys and understand the risks," he said. "But when you're out on the field, it's about performing and playing and not worrying about it."

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 27, 2013 C4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Steeves wants to divert BRT cash to rec centres

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A mother goose has chosen a rather busy spot to nest her eggs- in the parking lot of St Vital Centre on a boulevard. Countless cars buzz by and people have begun to bring it food.-Goose Challenge Day 06 - May 08, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Hay bales sit under a rainbow just west of Winnipeg Saturday, September 3, 2011.(John Woods/Winnipeg Free Press)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think Ray Rice should be given a lifetime ban from the NFL?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google