Aaron Rodgers wants to play but injuries cast doubt

Stephen A.: Rodgers is 'greatest talent at the quarterback position' ever (0:55)

Stephen A. Smith explains why Aaron Rodgers should still be considered one of the best quarterbacks of all time despite the Packers' struggles this season. (0:55)

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers wants to play and expects to play. Joe Philbin wants to play him and expects to play him.

Unless, of course, there's a reason for the Green Bay Packers quarterback not to play.

At this point, it sounds like being eliminated from the playoffs isn't enough of one.

An injury, however, could be.

Rodgers said after Sunday's loss at Chicago that helped eliminate the Packers from playoff contention with two games to play that he injured his groin on the final play of the first half, and although he didn't miss a snap, he spent most of the second half trying to stretch it out because, he said, "it bothered me a little bit."

Could that, combined with the left knee injury that Rodgers battled all season, be enough for the Packers (5-8-1) to keep the 35-year-old out of Sunday's penultimate game of 2018, at the New York Jets? The oddsmakers apparently think it's possible. The Packers opened as a 3-point favorite Sunday. By Monday morning, the Jets (4-10) were a 1.5-point favorite. By Monday afternoon, the game was off the board.

"In the general sense, my philosophy is football players are paid to play football games, and football coaches are paid to coach football games, so obviously we have to go through the week and we would never put any player out there that wasn't physically ready to go," said Philbin, the Packers' interim coach. "But that's my general philosophy and overall philosophy whether it's Aaron Rodgers or anybody else. We're the Green Bay Packers, we're a football team and we're in the business of winning football games, and we want all our players who are healthy to contribute to the overall success of the team. Period."

Team president Mark Murphy and general manager Brian Gutekunst could tell Philbin to sit Rodgers even if he's healthy in order to protect their $134 million quarterback from further injury that could jeopardize the 2019 season.

Philbin, however, said he has not been part of any conversion with any front-office executives about sitting Rodgers for the final two weeks.

"I think when you sign up for the 2018 NFL season, you sign up for a 16-game season and hopefully you earn the opportunity to extend that and to compete for a championship," Philbin said. "Obviously the extension part is over. That being said, you're a football player, you're part of a team and your one role is to the contribute to the overall success of the team. And the team has an opportunity to win a game Sunday against the New York Jets, and if our players, they should want to participate because they're good teammates and they should. I think that's their obligation to the team. So we'll see. If there are other discussions contrary to that, we'll certainly cross that bridge and discuss it.

"Again, I think it's bigger than Aaron Rodgers. This is a football team. You're a football player. You're employed by the Green Bay Packers just like if players or coaches were to say, 'Geez I'd like to go home tonight and not prepare as hard for this game because we're not going to the playoffs,' I mean, that's not a professional approach to the job, I don't think."

Backup quarterback DeShone Kizer, when asked Monday whether he's been told he could play in Week 16, said: "Nope, nothing."

If Rodgers plays, he might be without two more key players: receiver Randall Cobb and running back Aaron Jones. Cobb left Sunday's game against the Bears to be evaluated for a concussion, and a source said Monday that Cobb was indeed diagnosed with one and placed in the protocol. Jones left Sunday's game in the first half with a right knee injury he said he believes is similar to the MCL sprain he sustained twice last season.

The Packers claimed running back Kapri Bibbs off waivers from the Redskins, where he played in 10 games this season and averaged 5.1 yards per carry on just 20 attempts. This would indicate that Jones' availability for Sunday at the Jets is very much in question.