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Rodgers not ruled out this week

QB questions linger for Pack

Published: Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 12:19 a.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 1)

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Aaron Rodgers would rather not let the "Will he-or-won't he" questions linger until Sunday.

The Packers' franchise quarterback expects a decision Friday – Saturday tops – whether he'll be medically cleared to face the Atlanta Falcons in a game crucial to the team's dwindling playoff prospects.

"It's a medical decision. There were three parts to it: the strength, the range of motion and the evidence that we see on the scan. Two out of three are passed so far," Rodgers said Wednesday.

It was the results of the scan on the fractured left collarbone that disappointed Rodgers earlier in the week. He's healing, but the outlook wasn't as promising as he hoped.

If he can't go, Matt Flynn is back in again. Rodgers doesn't want his backup waiting until game time to learn that he's the starter.

"No, I don't think that's fair to Matt if we do that. I think by Friday or Saturday at the latest there will be a decision," he said.

No other scans on Rodgers' collarbone were planned for this week, according to coach Mike McCarthy. Limited in practice Wednesday, Rodgers was following rehab protocol. McCarthy will measure Rodgers' progress Thursday.

But at least one person thinks Rodgers is a go, even if the Packers themselves aren't sure.

"We're anticipating that he's going to play this week," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "I know that there was information that came out [Tuesday] that said that he wasn't cleared, but he's not been ruled out. We're taking that that he's playing."

The value of the 2011 NFL MVP has never been more evident than over the past month, with Green Bay 0-4-1 since one of the most irreplaceable players in the league got hurt on the first series of the 27-20 loss Nov. 4 to the Bears.

Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Flynn followed at quarterback. The Packers fell from first to third in the NFC North, sitting at 5-6-1 behind the Lions and Bears. They're hoping they've bottomed out with the 40-10 loss to Detroit on Thanksgiving Day.

"It's tough, but you just got to continue to grind it out," said seemingly perpetually optimistic receiver Jordy Nelson. "I think everyone has confidence in their ability to play this game and make plays. Everyone's done it in the past, so everyone just needs to do it at the same time."

For the Packers, one disturbing trend during the slide has been the decline of the defense at a time when it was needed most.

On offense, not having Rodgers means opponents stack the box more to stop rookie running back Eddie Lacy. It worked for the Lions, who held Lacy to just 16 yards on 10 carries.

In turn, that theoretically means the Packers having more shots to throw downfield against single coverage. It's a look that Rodgers would rarely face because of his proven ability to make big plays.

The hope with Flynn is that a full week of reps will give him a lift after going just 10 of 20 for 139 yards and an interception against Detroit, working then off barely 3 days of practice as the starter.

"I compare it to a really bad round of golf. We went out there and got our butts kicked, have to forget about it," said Flynn, who's preparing like he'll start again.

Rodgers said he felt fine in practice Wednesday doing individual drills. During one portion of practice open to media, he took turns with Flynn and Tolzien, making sharp passes of about 10 to 12 yards.

Watching from the sideline during the winless streak has been tough.

"But, you know, I need to take some of my own advice: worry about the things you can control. I can't control the healing of my bone. That's frustrating," Rodgers said. "But I've been preparing as if I was going to play every week and trying to help Matt and Scott out as much as I possibly can."

Come back soon

• Packers per-game production has dropped 51.1 percent in points scored, 40 percent in third-down success, 35 percent in total yards, 34.4 percent in rushing yards, 21.9 percent in time of possession, and 13.3 percent in yards per carry since Rodgers fractured his collarbone Nov. 4 against the Bears.

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