With a lot on the line heading into the Green Bay Packers’ Week 16 showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers -- both in terms of fantasy implications and NFL playoff positioning -- we’re keeping a close eye on the Pack’s injury situation.
Here’s an update surrounding the Packers’ key injured players:
Aaron Rodgers, QB (collarbone): It looks as if the Packers could be without their starting signal-caller for the seventh week in a row. As of Thursday, ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky reports Rodgers has not been medically cleared to return and Matt Flynn continues to take the first-team reps in practice. This decision has not been set in stone, though. Coach Mike McCarthy told reporters after Thursday’s practice that he would have an announcement about Rodgers’ status Friday.
On an encouraging note, McCarthy commented on just how much better Rodgers looked in practice this week as compared to last week, noting that “He looks sharp. He looks ready to play.” McCarthy then reminded reporters that Rodgers has not yet been medically cleared to play. There has been no word of additional testing since Rodgers underwent a follow-up scan last week. Essentially the story around the injury remains unchanged; this comes down to a medical decision.
It should be pointed out that the medical decisions about Rodgers are clearly being made, as they should be, with his health in mind. There is ultimately one person who retains responsibility for signing off on Rodgers’ return to play: Green Bay team physician Pat McKenzie. Understandably, the evidence has to largely be in favor of the collarbone demonstrating sufficient healing to allow Rodgers to return with a minimal risk of re-injury. However, it was Rodgers who said earlier this week that “there has to be some level of risk-reward conversation." It would seem that conversation is imminent based on how well Rodgers is doing functionally. Still, the deciding vote goes to the medical professional in this situation, regardless of how frustrated the player and his fans might be.
Eddie Lacy, RB (ankle): There’s not nearly so much angst around Lacy’s situation this week. After playing in Week 15 despite a significant ankle sprain, Lacy got some practice time off this week to rest his ankle and was back in his protective boot. McCarthy indicated that he expects Lacy to play Sunday. Judging by how well he performed just one week after the initial injury, there are no overarching concerns here.
Randall Cobb, WR (leg): As for Cobb, who seemed as if he had a chance to return to action this week once he returned to the practice field, it appears he is not ready to do so just yet. Cobb suffered a fracture in his tibia Oct. 13 and was placed on injured reserve/designated for return. He has been eligible to return since Week 15, but his recovery is requiring some additional time. As Demovsky notes, Cobb was just cleared to resume running last week, and his biggest hurdle now is reconditioning himself to game shape. He is practicing on a limited basis at this point, and while he would likely be available for the Packers should they enter the postseason, his return for any regular-season play is uncertain at best.