If the Green Bay Packers are to avoid a six-game winless streak, they’ll have to do it without the help of Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers quarterback continued throwing on a limited basis during the portion of Friday’s practice available to the media, but his fractured left collarbone hasn’t sufficiently healed to the point he can return to in-game action.
So Rodgers will sit out of his fifth consecutive game this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons while Matt Flynn goes back under center following a 40-10 shellacking at the hands of the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy admitted Rodgers’ patience is being tested, but the team won’t clear him until he’s healthy. As scans and X-rays showed earlier this week, Rodgers just isn’t quite there yet.
“I mean Aaron’s frustrated,” McCarthy said. “We’re in meetings all day together so there’s a conversation each and every day. He’s like every other player that’s fighting to get back on the field. He has a rehab program and how he feels going through it is obviously expressed every day. He’s frustrated.”
The Packers are 0-4-1 since Rodgers suffered the injury following the first drive of a 27-20 loss to Chicago on Nov. 4. Even in their 26-26 tie against Minnesota, they needed Flynn to overcome a 16-point deficit to force overtime.
To keep their playoff hopes alive, they’ll need more of that Flynn and less of the one who only completed 10-of-20 passes for 139 yards and an interception against the Lions, who also sacked him on seven occasions.
Detroit, which is now 1½ games ahead of Green Bay in the NFC North, neutralized the Packers with many eight-man-in-the-box looks and a Falcons’ defense ranked 26th in the NFL likely will look to do the same.
After coming up short five times, the Packers have no other option but to win without Rodgers.
“He doesn’t really let it show to anybody else, but you know he’s frustrated and you know he wants to get out there,” Flynn said. “This is his team and for him not to be out there is really hard on him. But he doesn’t let it show. He’s been great trying to get me ready, and just try to pass on tips, as he always did when I was here for four years. He’s been a great asset for us.”