Packers' Rodgers still hurting

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By Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wednesday, December 11, 2013

GREEN BAY--Green Bay Packers fans are feeling Aaron Rodgers’ pain.

Once optimistic that the injured quarterback would return this week for a must-win game on the same field where he won his Super Bowl MVP, fans who listened to Rodgers’ radio show Tuesday were delivered a big dose of downer.

Rodgers revealed that he was not even close to returning to the field last week despite taking part in a very limited part of practice for the second straight week. Not only did a CT scan show that his cracked left collarbone hadn’t progressed much, the pain he experienced after a modest workout Wednesday caused him to back off the rest of the week.

“I went out there Wednesday and had pain,” Rodgers said on his show on 540 ESPN Milwaukee. “We talked about range of motion and flexibility and the risk evaluation. Well, the other thing that comes into play once you’re back doing football movements is the pain.

“Are you experiencing pain doing some normal football stuff whether it’s handing off or taking the snap or making quick movements or going through drill work? And the answer for me last week was yes. That was my answer on whether I was ready to play or not. You shouldn’t be having pain doing some of the simple movements.”

Rodgers has not had another scan but said he expected to undergo one this week and did not rule out the possibility that the extra rest he had last week would allow for a better response when he tries to practice Wednesday. At the very least, Rodgers can’t experience significant pain in his left shoulder if he’s going to have a chance to be cleared for action against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

On Monday coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers would take part in a workout Tuesday and be examined today to check his progress, but Rodgers said all he did Tuesday was lift weights in front of the strength and conditioning staff.

Until Rodgers performs the moves he would have to make in a game without discomfort, any decision is on hold.

On Wednesday he will be 31 days removed from the Nov. 4 injury. Shoulder specialists have said it takes four to eight weeks for the type of fracture Rodgers suffered to heal sufficiently for a return and that the most realistic time frame was at least six weeks.

“It’s a waiting game,” Rodgers said. “I was trying to push it past, come back before science even tells you it’s possible. I don’t think you’re seeing anybody out there coming back in four or five weeks from this type of injury to do some of the things I’d like to do on the field.”

It will be six weeks on Sunday, but in order for Rodgers to be cleared this week, team physician Patrick McKenzie will have to feel comfortable that enough healing has taken place to remove the risk of him suffering a displaced fracture and that Rodgers can function without significant disability.

If he had been able to practice with less discomfort last week, there probably would be more optimism he could play this week. But even Rodgers admitted there wasn’t enough progress made for him to continue preparing for his return.

“Thursday, I had the pads on but I didn’t really do anything,” Rodgers said of last week. “Friday, I didn’t do anything either, so it wasn’t a progression. I didn’t get better as the week went on. I tried to do a lot of stuff on Wednesday, didn’t feel very good and from there I decreased and did the stuff that I did.

“I wasn’t getting closer to playing last week. In my mind, it was actually resting it more to not try to stress it more than I had on Wednesday and hopefully this week I would respond better when I stressed it on Wednesday.”

Rodgers is hoping to prove he’s in the home stretch, but he did not indicate on his show if he was feeling any better than a week ago. Part of the reason could be he has been focusing only on rehab and avoiding the movements he would make in a full-fledged practice.

“I’m going to practice tomorrow and try to do some of the things I did last week without pain, see how my body responds to it on Thursday and take it from there,” he said. “Again, there’s a lot of variables in this with the scan being one of them.

“And the scan last week did not show healing…like we wanted to. That paired with the pain I experienced in practice kept me out of the game. We would need a different result and different responses in order to go this week.”

McCarthy said Monday that he was preparing Matt Flynn to start against the Cowboys and would adjust if anything changed with Rodgers. He should know fairly quickly Wednesday if the pain returns in Rodgers’ shoulder and he isn’t ready.

But if Rodgers has a pain-free workout Wednesday and the scan shows significant improvement, discussion probably would begin about whether to let Rodgers start taking snaps with the No. 1 offense. Presumably, Rodgers would have to pass several levels of accelerated work to get clearance to play.

Rodgers said if that scenario played out it would not be difficult for him to be mentally prepared to play even if it meant limited practice time.

“It starts with your preparation Monday and Tuesday, watching the film,” he said. “Obviously, I checked out the game last night with the (Cowboys and) Bears. I’m going another week hoping to play, expecting to play. You just go through your preparation.

“I don’t feel like I need a ton of reps. I know this offense pretty well, so I’m not worried about terminology or no-huddle stuff. Ran a lot of that when I was playing. Get a few reps, feel comfortable and react if I’m able to get out there.”

Rodgers did not rule himself out of the Cowboys game, but he also said it’s not as easy as just standing in the pocket and throwing the ball, which he was able to do last week with considerable velocity. It’s a matter of being pain-free while doing the things a quarterback has to do in a game.

“It’s different when you’re moving around,” he said. “You’re doing a lot of quick movements, whether it’s a drill where you have to play fast, you’re simulating game speed or whether it’s taking a snap and giving a handoff with your left arm, which is attached to that injury.

“Those are some of the things that gave me discomfort. That was kind of my clue that I’m obviously not ready. The way that scan looked and then to have the discomfort I had made me know I wasn’t ready.”

He said it was not easy watching the Packers go out and play another week without him. The Packers finally won a game without him, beating the Atlanta Falcons, 22-21, at Lambeau Field.

It probably will take a much better effort to beat 7-6 Dallas at Cowboys Stadium.

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