You can tell. The questions have to be asked, they have to be answered, but it's been evident for some time that everyone connected with the continuing story of "As The Shoulder Heals" is weary. That became more evident over the past 24 hours when Mike McCarthy declared late Tuesday afternoon that Aaron Rodgers, "has not been medically cleared to play, he will practice, and he hasn't been ruled out", of Sunday's return to Lambeau Field against the Atlanta Falcons. The fact the Packers have had the bottom fall out of their season since Rodger's got crunched against the Bears on November 4 has only magnified the drama surrounding his return. It didn't help over the weekend when there were reports the Packers were considering shutting down Rodgers for the season if they get eliminated from playoff contention, likely with just one more loss. McCarthy is getting shorter with his responses about the cracked collarbone and today, Rodgers himself was curt but polite when talking about his return to practice, on a very limited basis today. He was open about the frustration, hinted at leaks and expressed optimism the team will win again this year, with or without him. Hear for yourself:
Matt Flynn is getting the starting reps and unless there's a miraculous bone healer lurking around Lambeau, he'll get the call against the Falcons.
The roster move this week was explained as one of neccessity at two positions. Down to just two running backs with Johnathan Franklin sent to IR last weekend, the Packers signed former Chicago Bear Khalil Bell. Packer fans should remember his 121 yard effort against the Pack at Lambeau in December of 2011. To clear the roster spot, the Packers cut last year's 4th round draft pick Jerron McMillian. That raised a couple of eyebrows but McCarthy explained they had a surplus of safeties with Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings, Chris Banjo and Sean Richardson. He also admitted McMillian's production just wasn't catching up to his potential and you hate to give up on a young player. Only 4 of the 8 picks from the 2012 draft are still with the team.
Center Evan Dietrich-Smith is catching many breaks lately. Healing nicely from a tweak of his knee injury last Thursday in Detroit thanks to a long weekend, EDS rolled an ankle at practice today. He might have to take it easy on Thursday, possibly Friday, but I expect him to be there on the weekend. His departure against the Lions created issues at three spots when T.J. Lang had to move to center.
The only players who did not take part in practice today were Mike Neal with his abdomen strain and C.J. Wilson with a sprained ankle. Rodgers was obviously limited as was Nick Perry. Brandon Bostick got cleared from his concussion and returned as a full participant today.
From the front office: Vice President of sales and marketing Tim Connolly has announced his resignation. He joined the Packers in May of 2010 and help spearhead growth in marketing partnerships and the team's media group including packers.com. Connolly will be starting up his own sports marketing consulting company in his home state of Florida. He'll formally step down in February of next year.