Aaron Rodgers has participated in all of his normal meetings this week, including his weekly private game-planning session with Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy. Despite his presence, however, McCarthy has worked hard internally -- and to the public on Friday -- to present Rodgers' absence as an "opportunity."
"No disrespect to Aaron," McCarthy said after the Packers completed their final practice before Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. "But you get to the point where it's about your football team. We're trying to accomplish something special as a team. Special is about winning on Sunday, because that's all that really matters. And that's what it's all about.
"For us as a football team, this is a great opportunity to show you how good we can be. Everybody knows how great a player he is. At the end of the day ... this is a great opportunity for everybody on our football team to be successful."
Indeed, if the Packers can pull off a few victories with Seneca Wallace at quarterback while Rodgers' fractured collarbone heals, then some of us will have to adjust our sense of how good they are beyond the quarterback position. ESPN Eagles reporter Phil Sheridan and I both picked the Packers to lose Sunday, but for those keeping track of such things, 11 of ESPN's official NFL experts picked them to win.
The Packers did get a boost Friday when guard T.J. Lang (concussion) was cleared to practice. Assuming there are no setbacks, Lang will start Sunday, allowing Don Barclay to move back to his normal position at right tackle. Meanwhile, linebacker Clay Matthews (thumb) was listed as probable. Here's what ESPN.com scout Matt Williamson wrote about Matthews' return Thursday.