Time to push the envelope with Rodgers

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If the Green Bay Packers were thinking about holding out quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the rest of the season just to be safe with their franchise quarterback, it might be time for them to change their approach.

For the record, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said back on Dec. 3 that the possibility of shutting down Rodgers for the season had not even been discussed.

However, if the Packers wanted to do so without making it look like that was the approach, they could simply continue on the path they've been on with him for the last couple of weeks -- which is to let Rodgers keep practicing on a limited basis but not clear him medically.

"Aaron's obviously very important to our organization," McCarthy said last week. "He's the face of our franchise and until he's medically cleared, just like any other player going through a significant injury, that's where the focus will be."

Clearly, the Packers want to protect their $110 million investment.

Now, if Rodgers is still at significant risk of reinjuring his broken collarbone, then there should be no conversation about putting him back on the field. But if the risk has reached a minimum level, then it might be time for McCarthy to take a chance.

After the Packers' unlikely 37-36 comeback victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, this season has all of a sudden become worth saving like perhaps only Rodgers can. If they win their two remaining games -- something they might need Rodgers to do -- and the Detroit Lions lose just once, the Packers will win the NFC North.

That means at least one home playoff game, which could help propel a long playoff run.

Also, the other top teams in the NFC don't look quite as strong as they did two weeks ago. In the last two weeks, the leaders in the NFC East (Philadelphia Eagles), NFC West (Seattle Seahawks) and NFC South (New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers) all have lost at least one game.

McCarthy on Monday offered no further update on Rodgers' condition and said he would not know any more until Rodgers was evaluated on Wednesday.

There's no better judge of the risk than team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie, who is directing Rodgers' care, and his reputation in the business is as good as they come. If McKenzie gives his OK, then the Packers should put their star back on the field.