GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- The losing - and tying - ways behind them, or so they hope, the Green Bay Packers are in the thick of what is shaping up to be a wacky chase for the NFC North title over the final three weeks of the regular season.
Will they have quarterback Aaron Rodgers back on the field to lead that charge?
For this week, at least, it appears the Packers may have to seek another vital road victory at the Dallas Cowboys without him.
Coach Mike McCarthy announced Monday that the team is getting ready to prepare Matt Flynn for another start at quarterback when the Packers play the Cowboys on Sunday.
"As we plan tonight and tomorrow, we're planning to play the game with Matt," McCarthy said. "That's the way you have to go about it. It's the same way we went last week."
Rodgers missed a fifth straight game when the Packers ended a five-game winless streak by rallying in the second half for a 22-21 win over the visiting Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
A two-yard touchdown pass from Flynn to tight end Andrew Quarless early in the fourth quarter decided the outcome after Green Bay trailed 21-10 at halftime.
The Packers not only won for the first time since they lost Rodgers to a broken collarbone in a Nov. 4 defeat to the Chicago Bears, but they moved within a half game of the NFC North lead. The Detroit Lions dropped to 7-6 with a loss at Philadelphia, just ahead of the 6-6-1 Packers and the 6-6 Chicago Bears, who were to play Dallas on Monday night.
"We knew going into this (game Sunday) that we needed to win this game, for one, and keep winning on after, but we also knew we needed some help from somewhere," Flynn said after going 24-for-32 passing for 258 yards against the Falcons.
Flynn overcame five sacks and two turnovers, including an interception that was returned 71 yards for a touchdown by linebacker Sean Weatherspoon in the final seconds of the first half, to win for the first time in two games as Green Bay's fourth starting quarterback this season.
A third straight start for Flynn could be in the works.
"Visiting with Aaron yesterday about where he is, he has hurdles to go over, and medically he's not cleared," McCarthy said Monday. "So, we're planning for Matt Flynn."
McCarthy said the team is planning to put Rodgers through a rehab workout Tuesday and then have him evaluated by team doctor Pat McKenzie on Wednesday.
"They're going to do some things tomorrow that they (hadn't) done last week," McCarthy said. "He's still not medically cleared" to play.
Rodgers has been able to participate in individual portions of practice before the last two games but still needs to get the green light from McKenzie to resume playing.
"He's progressing," McCarthy said of Rodgers' recovery from the injury to the collarbone on his non-throwing left side. "I think the biggest thing is strength - strength and comfort. He felt better Friday than he did on Wednesday (last week). Hopefully, we'll make the same progress this week."
--The status of rookie halfback Eddie Lacy will be monitored closely as well this week.
McCarthy gave his players Monday off as a reward for their 22-21 comeback win over Atlanta on Sunday. However, Lacy, among others afflicted by injury, was at Lambeau Field on Monday for treatment and rehab work.
McCarthy confirmed in his day-after-game news conference that Lacy suffered a sprained ankle in Sunday's game.
"We'll see how the week goes," McCarthy said.
Lacy's right ankle twisted as he was tackled on an outside run on the final play of the first half. He limped off the field to the locker room and stayed there until coming back out in the third quarter.
Lacy went back into the game midway through the quarter with the ankle heavily taped and played until the end. Afterward, though, Lacy said the ankle was swollen and giving him discomfort.
"I definitely couldn't push off of it as much as I wanted to," Lacy said. "I could feel it whenever I ran. If I was healthy, I could have broken a couple of tackles, but I couldn't because I couldn't push off."
Lacy finished with 20 carries for 65 yards, including a one-yard touchdown that capped an 18-play, 90-yard drive of more than nine minutes in Green Bay's first possession of the game.
McCarthy wouldn't speculate Monday on Lacy's availability for the upcoming game at the Cowboys, saying only that it's "too early to tell."
Lacy leads all rookies with 887 rushing yards this season, ranking ninth overall in the league.
In reserve for Green Bay at halfback are James Starks, who rushed for only 19 yards in seven carries Sunday, and recently signed veteran Kahlil Bell, who was inactive Sunday.
--WR Randall Cobb (leg) is eligible to resume playing next Sunday, when the Packers play at Dallas. However, the standout would seem to be a long shot to get back on the field this week and be cleared for the game. Cobb, who is on the injured reserve-designated to return list, has been out since he sustained a broken fibula in his right leg in the Oct. 13 win at Baltimore. Cobb said Friday he hasn't been given the OK by the team's medical staff to start running again.
--ILB Brad Jones (ankle) didn't finish the Atlanta game. The starter suffered an injury to his left ankle while he dropped into coverage and tackled Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez on a 16-yard completion late in the fourth quarter. McCarthy said Monday that the team's medical staff "felt pretty good about Brad," perhaps an encouraging sign for his prospects of playing next at Dallas.
--ILB Jamari Lattimore (knee) suffered an injury to his left knee late in the fourth quarter on his first play taking over for Jones. The status of Lattimore for this week won't be known until Wednesday.
--DE C.J. Wilson (ankle) missed a second straight game Sunday. The defensive backup is recovering from a significant injury to his lower left leg.