The Green Bay Packers square off with the Chicago Bears in what is one of Week 17's most pivotal matchups. And, with the news that their superstar quarterback will be back on the field, this changes the perception of the game. Let's delve deep into what the latest injury reports on the Packers' top skill position players mean to fantasy owners this week:
Aaron Rodgers, QB (collarbone): It's official! Aaron Rodgers is back as the starting quarterback for the Packers. Coach Mike McCarthy made the announcement at an eagerly anticipated news conference Thursday morning. Here's how the week unfolded:
There was no real news on the Rodgers front Wednesday; the team did not conduct a practice, but per the requisite injury report, Rodgers was listed as a limited participant, the same status he has held for the past two weeks.
On Thursday, the weekly will-he-or-won't-he tease began, with Rodgers taking first-team reps in the individual drills portion of practice open to the media. While media members were not able to observe 11-on-11 drills, there was a sense that Rodgers would garner the start, since starters usually take those first-team reps in practice. After practice, where Rodgers was cited as a full participant, McCarthy announced to reporters that Rodgers would be the starter on Sunday.
This dilemma has always been about whether it was safe for Rodgers to play from a medical standpoint. It hasn't been about safety at making throws in the pocket, in running around and handing off or throwing the football, but rather about how much confidence there was in the ability of Rodgers' left clavicle to absorb major contact and stay intact. Rodgers seemed to understand the imprecision around the decision when he said that a "risk-reward" conversation would probably have to happen at some point. That concept has no doubt been a consideration for the organization all along, even if not openly stated. And if the evidence of callus formation (bone healing) has been insufficient until this point, then a conversation about any potential reward remained unnecessary, given the obvious risk.
Now it appears that such a dialogue has occurred. No one can say with certainty that Rodgers is 100 percent risk-free. However, the Packers can now say that there is adequate confidence in his healing to date, along with his demonstrated ability to perform at the position, that the reward outweighs the risk. In fact, McCarthy referenced this when he said Rodgers "has accepted the level of risk." McCarthy went on to comment about how good Rodgers has looked in practice lately.
It's hard to imagine this news doesn't boost the Packers' entire squad a notch in terms of projected performance, based on emotion alone.
Eddie Lacy, RB (ankle): On Tuesday, we noted that Lacy aggravated his sprained right ankle in Week 16
Randall Cobb, WR (leg): Cobb took another step toward returning to game action Thursday when he participated in practice in full pads. Cobb has been increasing his involvement in practice over the past two weeks but remains on the IR/designated-for-return list since fracturing his right tibia. Whether the final regular season game is the site of Cobb's postinjury debut remains uncertain, as the team may opt to see whether playoffs are on the horizon before exposing him to contact. On Thursday, McCarthy noted that Cobb looked good in practice and that a decision likely would be made Friday.