Packers QB Aaron Rodgers undergoes scans; return 'in the hands of the experts'

Tom Silverstein
Packers News
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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers during warmups prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lambeau Field.

GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers underwent a series of scans Monday and a decision on the status of the Green Bay Packers quarterback will come down to the evaluations of team physician Patrick McKenzie and several specialists who are being consulted.

Coach Mike McCarthy updated Rodgers’ status during his late afternoon news conference, saying the quarterback’s return from a broken right collarbone suffered eight weeks ago will depend on the medical evaluations.

"There’s a number of scans, testing that went on this morning,” McCarthy said. “It is now in the evaluation stage. Dr. McKenzie is reviewing it. There’s a number of medical opinions that will be involved in the decision, so at this time I do not have a clean decision for you or an update. That’s where it stands.”

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Asked when he would know whether Rodgers would be available for the Carolina Panthers game Sunday, he said:

“I can’t give you a timeline. Obviously, we’d like to make a decision as soon as possible.”

Sunday was the eight-week mark from when Rodgers fractured his right collarbone against the Minnesota Vikings and Thursday will be the eight-week mark from when he had two plates inserted during surgery in California.

Rodgers practiced last week and from all indications looked like himself. During drills media members were allowed to watch, Rodgers threw full strength, and players said his work during private team drills was equally sharp.

If cleared, Rodgers would begin on-field preparations for the Panthers on Wednesday when the Packers return to practice. He is eligible to return to the 53-man roster from injured reserve Saturday.

McCarthy said Rodgers believes he’s ready to go.

“His rehab has been very good,” McCarthy said. “There hasn’t been any target that he hasn’t hit, so everything from that standpoint looks good.

“But at the end of the day, this is in the hands of the experts. And the experts will make a medical decision and from that, we’ll move on from there.”

Still, there would need to be agreement from the doctors and general manager Ted Thompson that Rodgers wasn’t in danger of suffering the same injury. Given it’s Rodgers’ throwing shoulder and the playoffs aren’t a guarantee, Thompson undoubtedly would want assurances the risk was minimal.

When Rodgers broke his left collarbone in 2013, he missed seven games. However, that fracture was not as severe and wasn’t to his throwing shoulder.

Among the tests Rodgers was expected to undergo Monday was a bone density scan, which would reveal how well the fracture has knitted. Rodgers said shortly after the surgery that he would wait until near the end of his rehab to take the test because he believed it could delay the bone’s healing.

Rodgers told Conan O’Brien on his late-night TBS show on Oct. 26, that he had 13 screws inserted into the collarbone, and NFL Network later reported that it was to secure two metal plates over the fracture, a process used to accelerate healing. The quarterback would not reveal who did the surgery, but it’s likely that doctor will have a big say in when Rodgers can return.

When he talked to reporters Nov. 3, Rodgers said there was one main criteria for being cleared.

“The only reason to come back would be that I’m healed completely,” Rodgers said. “If that doesn’t happen in eight weeks, there’s not even a conversation.”

Had the Packers not beaten the Cleveland Browns 27-21 in overtime Sunday, the conversation might have been moot from the organization’s standpoint. It’s almost a given the 7-6 Packers can’t finish with any more losses and still have a chance at the playoffs. There are very few scenarios in which they can get in at 9-7.

But if the Packers can win at Carolina, at home against Minnesota (Dec. 23) and at Detroit (Dec. 31), then they may be able to sneak in.

McCarthy said the staff would go through its regular game-planning Monday and Tuesday and adjust once it knew Rodgers’ status. It’s possible the medical opinions will lean toward Rodgers not playing, in which case Brett Hundley would have to start for an eighth straight game.

Hundley is 3-4 as a starter, but the combined record of the three teams he beat is 8-31. The Panthers are 9-4, the Vikings are 10-3 and the Lions are 7-6.

Asked if he would have to formulate two game plans Tuesday while waiting for results on Rodgers’ shoulder, McCarthy said he was hoping for a decision “as soon as possible.”

Typically, the game plan is formulated Tuesday, although McCarthy said some basic work on it was done last week.

There would be a big difference in the game plan the coaches would put in for Rodgers vs. Hundley, since Rodgers has complete command of the playbook, can regularly change plays at the line of scrimmage and wouldn’t need to rely on the run game as much.

If Rodgers is cleared, the focus in practice would be to get back his timing within the offense.

“The team reps are extremely important,” offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said. “From a timing standpoint, a rhythm standpoint, putting, from a passing game standpoint, the receivers and the quarterback on the same page.”


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