NFL

Packers' Rodgers returns to practice, still unlikely to play

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The Canadian Press
11/26/2013 3:08:58 PM
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- So much quarterback drama with the Packers.

Aaron Rodgers is tossing the football around again at practice. But don't expect to see Rodgers to be healed enough from his fractured left collarbone to play Thursday when Green Bay visits Detroit in a critical NFC North game.

"This was a big day actually for him as far as doing throwing and doing some of the things ... the training staff wanted to hit with him. They definitely hit it," coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday after practice. "So, he feels good but I don't think he's going to make it this week."

Tuesday marked Rodgers' return to practice since the Nov. 4 injury as anything more than an unofficial assistant quarterback coach. He was formally declared "limited" on the injury report.

Asked for more clarity after having pronounced Rodgers' chances as "slim to none" earlier this week, McCarthy told reporters: "Closer to none. I'm trying to help you out, the drama ... that you guys need. So, there it is, all right."

So then the starter is ... Matt Flynn. Probably.

Flynn took starter reps Tuesday, two days after helping to lead the Packers back from a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the Vikings 26-26 in overtime.

"That's where we are. Business as usual," McCarthy said. "Getting him ready. Getting ready to go."

Flynn hadn't actually been told as of early Tuesday afternoon that he'll be the starter. He said he didn't know when that decision will be made, though it seems like it's headed in that direction.

"But I'm preparing like I'm going to start. My mind is set to go out there and take the first snap and play, and do the best that I can, and try to move the ball," said Flynn, a one-time Packers backup who was re-signed two weeks ago.

The Packers' problems at quarterback started when Rodgers went down during the first series of the 27-20 loss to Chicago on Nov. 4. Green Bay, 5-2 at the time, has been winless since then.

Seneca Wallace replaced Rodgers, then started against the Eagles and played one series before leaving with a groin injury. He's now on injured reserve. Scott Tolzien replaced Wallace, and started the previous two weeks, but was relieved by Flynn on Sunday for ineffectiveness.

Flynn threw for 218 yards and a touchdown. Working in his favour is that he's familiar with the Packers' system after having been drafted by the team in 2008 and serving as Rodgers' backup for four seasons before leaving as a free agent in 2012.

"I think we're so much further ahead than we were last week," McCarthy said. "Just as far as going into this game, I feel a lot better that both our quarterbacks will be better prepared."

With Flynn, the Packers moved the ball against the Vikings going without a huddle, a staple under Rodgers but something that McCarthy has said the team wasn't really as prepared to do on Sunday.

"You get the no-huddle out there, you kind of press their conditioning a little bit," centre Evan Dietrich-Smith said. "It really starts stressing out their guys that are on the field for that time because maybe they're not as used to it."

The equalizing factor, though, might be the Packers' having to recover from playing an overtime game. Practice schedules have been juggled a little this week to help the players.

Besides Rodgers, the Packers are starting to get other key players back like cornerback Sam Shields (hamstring) and Johnny Jolly (groin), who were both full participants Tuesday after missing the Vikings game. Right tackle Don Barclay (knee) also returned on a limited basis Tuesday.

What was new with Rodgers, though, was the primary topic of conversation.

How did he look? How did he throw? Will he play?

"You're talking to the wrong person. I would be surprised, I guess," receiver Jordy Nelson said with a smile. "There's nothing wrong with being surprised, though. Anyway, next question."

Aaron Rodgers (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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