Starter Pack: Rodgers provides a spark

A roundup of what’s happening on the Green Bay Packers’ beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – When Packers coach Mike McCarthy switched quarterbacks in the third quarter of Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings, he said Matt Flynn gave his team a spark.

The same could be said for Aaron Rodgers’ presence at practice on Tuesday.

Although Rodgers almost certainly won’t play on Thursday at the Detroit Lions – he said on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show that he still needs to get his strength and flexibility back before he is cleared for game action – his return to the practice field for the first time since he broke his collarbone on Nov. 4 added some juice to Tuesday’s session.

“He’s been sneaking in a few throws here and there, but it’s great to see him back,” receiver Jordy Nelson said. “Obviously he’s progressing and look forward to get him back on the field as soon as possible.”

Said center Evan Dietrich-Smith: “It’s really good to see him out there. I think he has been having a real positive attitude, helping out the guys but you can tell he’s just dying to get back out there.”

In case you missed on ESPN.com:

  • Packers guard Josh Sitton stirred things up on Tuesday, when he ripped the Lions and their coach on Milwaukee radio station WSSP. Sitton described them as “dirtbags” and “scumbags” and used a choice word to describe coach Jim Schwartz.

  • One of the advantages of going with Matt Flynn at quarterback over Scott Tolzien is Flynn’s proficiency in the no-huddle offense.

  • About the only thing that could stop running back Eddie Lacy last Sunday was his asthma. He said it only bothers him in extreme cold. Given that he plays in Green Bay, it’s worth wondering whether that will be an issue again.

  • Rodgers wasn't the only important player to return to practice. Cornerback Sam Shields was back, and that's big considering the Packers will have to defend Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. Details are in the injury report.

  • For the fourth straight week, the Packers fell in the ESPN Power Rankings.