Cautious approach right with Rodgers

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Nearly every time there’s an update on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his broken collarbone, the name Brett Favre comes up.

On Wednesday, a Twitter follower responded to a tweet about what Rodgers did in practice by saying: “Favre would’ve started 4 weeks ago.”

No, he would not have.

Not if he were playing for the Packers in 2013.

Maybe Favre forced his way on the field a week after he sprained his ankle in 1995 to throw five touchdowns against the Chicago Bears. And it’s possible it was his call to play with a broken thumb in 1999, but that preseason injury clearly impacted his performance during that mediocre season. Favre had myriad injuries – and played through almost every one of them – but he never broke his collarbone.

Times have changed, and team doctors – especially in Green Bay – have more say now than they did then. That they have taken a cautious approach with Rodgers has been a wise move. If the doctors clear him to return, then coach Mike McCarthy should let him play – regardless of the circumstances surrounding the playoffs. But the medical standard should be the same no matter if the Packers are in playoff contention or not.

A top personnel executive from another NFL team told me shortly after Rodgers broke his collarbone on Nov. 4 that he thought Rodgers would not play the rest of the season. He made that assessment based on the fact that one of his players sustained a similar injury and missed more than two full months.

Now, if you want to argue that Favre would never have sustained the injury Rodgers did, that might be more valid. Favre might be physiologically superior to Rodgers – and most other NFL quarterbacks --and therefore was impervious to some of the injuries that befell others. As much as anything – toughness included – that allowed him to make those 297 consecutive starts.

Favre’s streak ended because of a shoulder injury that, believe it or not, caused him pain and discomfort.

“I won’t play again if I can’t feel my hand,” Favre said when his streak ended in 2010. “I think it would be foolish to even consider playing if you don’t have total feeling in five fingers.”

Just like it would be foolish to bring back Rodgers before tests showed his broken collarbone had sufficiently healed and before he was able to perform his job without intense pain.

Let’s say the Packers would have put Rodgers back on the field last Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Would his collarbone have survived the blindside hit Matt Flynn took when he was sacked by an unblocked William Moore, who jarred the ball loose?

Maybe, but it was a chance not worth taking.