Packers' Rodgers hopes to play Sunday in Dallas
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb lays on the ground after being injured in the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. (Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)
The Sports Xchange
NFL Team Report - Green Bay Packers - INSIDE SLANT
Aaron Rodgers said "yes" after practice Thursday when asked if he hopes to play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
Coach Mike McCarthy's official statement was that there was no change on the status of Rodgers yet, but said the quarterback will be re-evaluated Friday before and after the final practice of the week.
Word from practice leaked out Wednesday that Rodgers was taking more snaps and looked good and that chatter became more prevalent and positive Thursday, McCarthy's official stand notwithstanding.
"If I'm going to play Sunday, I'm going to need to take the majority of the reps tomorrow," Rodgers said Thursday.
McCarthy, however, remained noncommittal about Rodgers' being able to play Sunday for the first time in six games, saying, "He was a limited practice member" in practice Thursday
Green Bay has been preparing Matt Flynn this week to make a third straight start, but that could be for naught if Rodgers is medically cleared to play Friday.
On Wednesday, Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was the first to verify that Rodgers was gearing up faster than the team's staff was revealing, saying "today, he took some offensive reps, which is a great thing for the team, definitely."
Quarless confirmed Wednesday that Rodgers' "limited" status in practice included taking snaps behind center with the first-string offense during the team portions that are closed to the media. That would be a significant development in the late-season saga that has played out for more than a month.
Rodgers' increased involvement on the practice field may be telling for his chances of playing Sunday. The Packers (6-6-1), fresh off their first win in six games since Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone Nov. 4, have a critical game at Dallas as they try to bolster their slim playoff chances.
On Wednesday, McCarthy did put a positive spin on Rodgers' ongoing recovery and the mysterious prognosis.
"I'm very optimistic that he's going to get back to full strength, and when that time comes, I'm sure we'll let everybody know about it," McCarthy said. "But, I think this whole process, and I clearly understand the importance of Aaron to the team (and) to the NFL, but we've got to make sure we do our due diligence and go through the process of getting him healthy."
Thus far, Flynn still is the projected starter for Sunday's game against the Cowboys (7-6), who also are in practically a must-win situation as they try to stay in contention for the NFC East title.
"(No.) 12 is our leader," Quarless said of Rodgers. "It would be great to get him back, but Flynn has to really step up and be that guy until that time comes."
Only 24 hours earlier, when Rodgers spoke on his weekly radio show on ESPN Wisconsin Tuesday, the outlook wasn't promising for him to be playing again Sunday and possibly the rest of the season. Rodgers disclosed that he experienced pain in the injured area on his non-throwing left side when he was doing what he said were "simple movements" of taking the snap from center or handing off the football in practice the previous Wednesday.
Whether the pain was no longer present in the team's first practice this week, McCarthy couldn't give a definitive answer.
"I didn't talk to Aaron about that," McCarthy said. "I didn't think he was in pain today, from what I saw, but that's really a question for him."
From Quarless' nearby vantage point, he vouched that Rodgers "looked real good today. It was good to see him out there, really working with the offense. He was out there before (in previous weeks) but wasn't working as much with the offense."