On Tuesday, Packers coach Mike McCarthy was asked if the chances of quarterback Aaron Rodgers playing against the Lions on Thursday were still somewhere between slim and none.
McCarthy said they were “closer to none,” something Rodgers said he hadn’t quite accepted later in the day. Rodgers called himself an “optimist” and hasn’t ruled himself out after returning to practice on Tuesday. Rodgers took snaps, threw the ball and did individual drills, none of which caused him any pain in his broken left collarbone. Having no pain isn’t the same as being cleared to return, though, and Rodgers explained why he’s still on the sideline.
“There’s obviously risk-management and then here’s the flexibility and the strength, which are two other components of this injury that have to be where I want them to be in order to play. The flexibility and the strength have been the last to come and we’ll go from there,” Rodgers said, via ESPNWisconsin.com “We’re 22 days out from the injury today. Expectations have been high, and I’ve obviously been trying to push it as much as has been reasonable, but it’s a waiting game with broken bones and obviously it doesn’t just affect the bone, it affects the muscles around it and range of motion and the strength you have on that left side and in that shoulder. Obviously I know I’m a right-handed quarterback, but I still need to be able to have strength in that arm.”
Rodgers said his timeline to return is unaffected by the performance of whoever is playing quarterback in his place, although he said he was “encouraged” by the way Matt Flynn played after replacing Scott Tolzien last Sunday. He’ll almost certainly need to be content with that until Week 14, when it looks like Rodgers will have a real chance to return to the lineup.