The Green Bay Packers aren't ruling out Aaron Rodgers for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons even though the star quarterback hasn't yet been medically cleared to play since breaking his left collarbone a month ago.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said that Rodgers will practice Wednesday in a limited fashion but that backup Matt Flynn would take the snaps with the starters.
"Aaron wants to play, there's no question about it," McCarthy said Tuesday. "But it's a medical situation. He has a clear understanding where he is as far as the process of getting back on the field. He feels good, and we're going to see what he can do tomorrow."
Speaking on his weekly radio show Tuesday night, Rodgers confirmed that he had an X-ray and CT scan earlier in the day and acknowledged that the outlook wasn't as promising as he'd hoped when he met with team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie.
"I saw the X-rays and scan," Rodgers said. "We're now four weeks and one day from my fracture. I've made a lot of progress. A lot of it is just the bone healing. Bone takes three to six weeks to heal. We all hoped we'd be on the short end of that.
"I trust Doc McKenzie. When I'm ready to play and everyone is on board, then I'm going to play," he added. "After we sat down Tuesday, I haven't had that full clearance. I'm not ruling myself out. I know there's a rush to get back out there. I feel it internally, but also externally. I desperately want to be out there, but it has to look good."
The Packers enter Sunday's game at 5-6-1 and are 0-4-1 since Rodgers was injured on the opening series of their loss to the Chicago Bears on Nov. 4. They've gone from 5-2 and on a four-game winning streak to needing to win their final four games and get some help to qualify for the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
"Ultimately, I'm not going to be able to play if I don't get medically cleared," Rodgers said.
Not getting shut down
Amid reports the team might shut Rodgers down if the team was out of playoff contention, McCarthy denied such a discussion has occurred.
"There has been no internal conversation about shutting Aaron Rodgers down," McCarthy said. "Aaron wants to play. When he's healthy, he'll be given the opportunity to play."
If Rodgers is not medically cleared to face the Falcons, Flynn is set to make his second straight start.
In Thursday's 40-10 Thanksgiving Day loss to the Detroit Lions, Flynn completed only 10 of 20 passes for 139 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked seven times, including once for a safety. He also lost a fumble on a centre exchange.
Flynn took over when McCarthy benched Scott Tolzien during a 26-26 tie with the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 24, when Flynn rallied the Packers from a 23-7 fourth-quarter deficit.
Asked why he would go with Flynn over Tolzien, who took over for an injured Seneca Wallace against Philadelphia on Nov. 10 and started the team's Nov. 17 loss to the New York Giants, McCarthy cited Flynn's experience. While he didn't sign with the team until Nov. 12, Flynn was Rodgers' primary backup from 2008 through 2011.
"We just think Matt's further along as far as game experience and just a little more comfortable in the system," McCarthy said. "Scott's worked extremely hard. Frankly for both Scott and Matt, Scott really had one week of full reps to get ready for the Giants game. This will be Matt's first opportunity to get a full week of reps getting ready for Atlanta game. That's what you have to look at.
"Talking even with Aaron today about trying to maybe get him ready also, to get him a chance to come back [the question] is how do you balance that out? Because at the end of the day, we have to make sure our quarterback is ready to play."