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Different day, same story

by Mark Daniels

Don't even have to attend Mike McCarthy's daily press conferences anymore.  I already know the answer.

"Limited at practice, not medically cleared, feeling better."

Do I even have to ask the question?  44 days after cracking the collarbone, Aaron Rodgers continues to mend and with now only two games left in the regular season, continues to wait for Dr. Pat McKenzie and General Manager Ted Thompson's stamp of approval.  On his radio show Tuesday, Rodgers acknowledges the obvious medical thinking, but also said it might be time to include the risk-reward debate.   Thanks to the Baltimore Ravens Monday night, the Packers now have two hands firmly on the wheel, sitting in the driver's seat for the NFC North title.

McCarthy likened Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers as the semifinal round, they have to win it to reach the division championship game four days after Christmas at Soldier Field in Chicago.

As of this posting, the semifinal round quarterbacking belongs to Matt Flynn.  That still could change by week's end.

The opening practice of the week today did welcome another long, lost and injured Packer.  Chopped down in Baltimore back in October, wide receiver Randall Cobb returned. He was cleared to run a week ago, cleared to practice today but like Rodgers, still not cleared to play.  Randall was all smiles though in the locker room afterwards:

Audio:  Randall Cobb.

Not so fortunate were the following, on the initial injury report for the week.

Limited: Aaron Rodgers (collarbone), Ryan Pickett (knee), C.J. Wilson (ankle).

Did Not Participate: Brandon Bostick (foot), Johnny Jolly (shoulder/neck), Brad Jones (ankle),

Eddie Lacy (ankle), Mike Neal (abdomen),  Nick Perry (foot).

Run Run Rudolph

This might be the Pack's favorite Christmas song this season.  For the first time since Ryan Grant was in his prime, lo these five seasons ago, the Packers have a one thousand yard rusher.  Rookie Eddie Lacy crashed through the barrier last Sunday in Dallas when he reached 1028 yards on the season, gaining 141 on the day which included the game winning touchdown and for his effort, he was named today the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.  It was the first and I don't think it will be the last award for Lacy who talked about learning of the honor this morning:

Audio: Eddie Lacy

Lacy is only 78 yards away from breaking John Brockington's franchise rookie rushing record of 1105 yards set in 1971.   On Sunday, the Packers will face a team in Pittsburgh that also has a rookie on top of it's rushing stats, LaVeon Bell of Michigan State.  Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told a group of reporters, including me this morning during his conference call, that he considered taking Lacy.  Tomlin said we felt Bell was a better fit for us.  Back in April, there wasn't a single running back taken in the first round of the draft but there were five chosen in the second.  Two of those five will run on the Lambeau tundra.

With the 37th overall choice, Cincinnati made North Carolina's Giovanni Bernard the first running back to come off the board.  The Steelers took Bell next at pick number 48.  The Denver Broncos also passed on Lacy by taking Wisconsin's Montee Ball at pick number 58.  Lacy came to the Packers at pick number 61 and on the very next selection, Seattle took Christine Michael.  So how have they fared?

Lacy is the clear leader of this pack.  His 1028 yards is 7th most in the league.  His 248 attempts ranks number five.   Bernard has gained 653 yards (24th) and 144 attempts (30th).  Bell is next with 198 carries (14th) for 646 yards (24th).   Ball, splitting time with Knowshon Moreno in Peyton Manning's backfield, has 455 yards (42nd) on 106 carries (41st).  Michael, who won't get many snaps behind the workhorse Marshawn Lynch with the Seahawks, has gained only 79 yards on 18 carries.   I think we should revisit this group in another two or three years.