The savior won't be back this week, Packers fans.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been ruled out of Sunday's game against Pittsburgh. It will be Green Bay's seventh straight game without Rodgers, who has a broken collarbone. Green Bay, which would be eliminated from the playoff race with a loss and a Bears win, will go with Matt Flynn at quarterback.
Final injury report: Rodgers out
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) December 20, 2013
The week unfolded just like the past few have in Green Bay. Rodgers has practiced on a limited basis, all reports are that he looks good, but the Packers' doctors won't clear him for action. That is probably the smart move, even if Rodgers' return might make the difference between a playoff berth or being at home in January.
"As an organization we feel we're not ready for him to play," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said at his press conference on Friday.
The Packers haven't been all too transparent about Rodgers' progress. McCarthy has typically said that it's a doctor's decision and then gets angry at follow-up questions. There haven't been any specifics from the Packers' medical staff. Perhaps that's part of the plan. Opponents have to prepare for Rodgers as long as the Packers haven't ruled him out for the season. Even if it's a small edge, it's an edge.
McCarthy sounded more frustrated than usual on Friday. Instead of talking about the doctors, he went out of his way several times to say "the organization" made the decision. He said he concurred with the decision but refused to go into who specifically made the call within the organization.
"I thought Aaron Rodgers did everything he could possibly do, what you look for in all your players," McCarthy said. "The man attacked the rehab aspect of it, did more in the weight room, did some really good things in practice. But, obviously, this is an organizational decision.
"He understands where we are. Everything has been explained. He wants to play. He's played with injuries, he's a tough guy, and he's done everything he possibly could to get back on the field."
The Packers keeping Rodgers' medical status a mystery also has added an element of drama to the NFC North race. The Packers have won two close games in a row with Flynn, and are desperately trying to stay alive for a playoff spot, perhaps until Rodgers can come back and give them a huge boost. The same story will play out in Week 17 if the Packers-Bears finale will come with the North title on the line. If Green Bay and Chicago both win on Sunday, the winner in Week 17 will be division champs. McCarthy refused to even address if Rodgers could return next week.
Will the Packers stay alive in the race this week? And if they do, will they have the former NFL MVP back for that enormous finale? Stay tuned.
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