No reason to doubt Rodgers' effectiveness

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In front of a semicircle of camera operators and reporters surrounding his locker on Thursday, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers answered five minutes worth of questions about his collarbone injury.

The queries came rapid-fire:

What was your level of pain this week?

Are you holding out hope to play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys?

When will you have another scan?

How frustrating has this process been?

Are you surprised by the day-to-day coverage of your injury?

On and on it went until every possible way to ask him when he will be back on the field had been exhausted.

But not one of the questioners asked anything about how well Rodgers thinks he will perform whenever he returns -- whether it's this Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, the next Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers or in 2014.

Perhaps that's because everyone just expects Rodgers to return to his pre-injury form. Through seven games, Rodgers had led the Packers to a 5-2 record. He had the NFL's fourth-highest passer rating (108.0), the fourth-best touchdown-to-interception ratio (15-to-4), the fifth-highest completion percentage (67.1 percent) and the most yards per pass attempt (8.8).

Before Chicago Bears defensive end Shea McClellin sacked Rodgers and put him into the ground left-shoulder first on Nov. 4, Rodgers had been doing the things he had always done.

But is it reasonable to expect that to continue after the longest layoff of his career as a starter, which dates to the beginning of the 2008 season?

Before this injury, Rodgers had missed only two starts -- one in 2010 because of a concussion and one in 2011 when he was rested in a meaningless Week 17 game.

“We've been around long enough that, when he comes back, we expect him to be the way he's been,” Packers receiver Jordy Nelson said Thursday, standing across the locker room from where the masses were waiting for Rodgers. “I don't think the situation is, ‘How is he going to play?' It's, ‘What can he take as far as hits?'

“Any player with a broken bone, yeah, you might be able to do some stuff, but until you take that blow, there's only one way to find out. We have to make sure that all the scans are right, and him and the doctors will take care of that.”

Packers coach Mike McCarthy put it a little more succinctly after watching Rodgers practice on Thursday.

“He's Aaron Rodgers,” McCarthy said. “The thing you appreciate is my man can throw the football. He throws the heck out of it. It's good to have him out there.”

Rodgers said Thursday that he would need to practice more on Friday in order to play against the Cowboys.

But that's likely for medical purposes and to become familiar with the game plan -- not because Rodgers needs the work.

“You know, in teams reps I haven't seen any rust,” Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo said. “He's been working in the individuals with us for a few weeks now, so I haven't seen any at this point.

“He's been in the offense forever, and the offense is built around him, and we don't anticipate any problems if he were to go.”

Perhaps that's why it's not even worth questioning.