2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Rodgers' return opens up options for Packers

By GENARO C. ARMAS - AP Sports Writer
    2013-12-27 16:18

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - The buffet line is open again for the Packers' offense with Aaron Rodgers back.

Coach Mike McCarthy has made a few adjustments to the playbook with the franchise quarterback back for the first time in nearly two months after breaking his left collarbone. Rodgers is expected to start Sunday in Green Bay's showdown in Chicago with the Bears for the NFC North title.

Keeping Rodgers untouched and upright is as paramount as ever. At the same time, the return of Rodgers figures to give the Bears' defense a dilemma that hasn't existed for Packers opponents in nearly two months - focus on the passing game at the expense of giving 1,100-yard rusher Eddie Lacy more room to run, or stop the run and give Rodgers more room to operate.

''Well, it's a lot like going to the restaurant. You have a menu. You decide what you want to use and what you probably shouldn't use,'' McCarthy said Friday about play-calling. Tweaks could also be made the next few days.

''You have to trust your plan, trust the process and we definitely trust Aaron Rodgers,'' McCarthy said.

It's hard not to after Rodgers helped lead Green Bay (7-7-1) to a 5-2 record before getting hurt Nov. 4 during the 27-20 loss to Chicago at Lambeau Field. The 2011 NFL MVP was a big reason why the team weathered the spate of early injuries.

The Packers were 2-5-1 without Rodgers, counting the loss to the Bears. McCarthy said Rodgers has looked good in his first couple days as a full practice participant this week since before the injury.

''The decision's been made. Obviously, it was a thorough one, and it's time for Aaron to play,'' McCarthy said. ''We're going to cut him loose and we're going to go play. We're going to play to win.''

Things could get even trickier for Chicago if the Packers activate playmaking receiver Randall Cobb from the injured reserve/designated for return list. Cobb has been moving well during the brief spurts of practice open to media.

Sidelined since October, Cobb was given extra work Friday to determine how he would feel Saturday, when the Packers could decide to activate him.

Green Bay knows it will already be without pass-rushing linebacker Clay Matthews, who had surgery this week after re-aggravating a right thumb injury. There's no timeline for his return, and it appears highly unlikely that Matthews would be available for a first-round playoff game the weekend of Jan. 4 should the Packers beat Chicago on Sunday to win the NFC North.

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers should otherwise have a full complement of linebackers with inside man Brad Jones (ankle) and outside rushers Nick Perry (foot) and Mike Neal (abdomen) all listed as probable for the Bears game.

Chicago gave them trouble the last time around, when the Packers also didn't have Matthews. Matt Forte ran for 125 yards and a score, while physical receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery each had touchdown catches.

Marshall (6-foot-4) and Jeffery (6-3) have distinct height advantages over cornerbacks Sam Shields and Tramon Williams, each listed at 5-11.

''I have 100 percent confidence in our ability to cover them. It just becomes harder if they're allowed to push and pull and grab, and we're not allowed to stand our ground to stay with them,'' cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said.

Aiding the Packers the last few weeks is an increase in takeaways that were too few and far between earlier in the year. Working against them is the absence again of Matthews, who has been OK this year when healthy but still had a team-high 7 1/2 sacks.

One star down, another star back. Rodgers doesn't play defense, but he can provide an emotional boost to players on that side of the ball.

''It'll be nice to see him back out there,'' Capers said. ''But I think our guys know, hey, we've got to go do our part, you know?''

Notes: Lacy was listed as probable after being limited in practice again this week with an ankle injury. ... Backup TEs Ryan Taylor and Jake Stoneburner are probable after each missed a day of practice this week due to illness. ''It's that time of year and we've had a couple guys go home,'' McCarthy said. ... The team signed undrafted rookie cornerback Jumal Rolle off the practice squad Friday.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

---

Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Jace AmaroNov 25 05:13p

New York Jets TE Jace Amaro (concussion) is in concussion protocol, according to head coach Rex Ryan, after suffering the concussion in Week 12 against the Buffalo Bills.

R. Griffin IIINov 25 04:23p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III was named the starter for Week 13 against the Indianapolis Colts Monday, Nov. 24, by head coach Jay Gruden, but he left open [ More ]

Michael BushNov 25 04:13p

The Arizona Cardinals signed free-agent RB Michael Bush (Bears) and cut RB Kerwynn Williams Tuesday, Nov. 25.

Brandon McManusNov 25 03:43p

The Denver Broncos waived PK Brandon McManus Tuesday, Nov. 25.

Connor BarthNov 25 03:43p

The Denver Broncos signed free-agent PK Connor Barth (Buccaneers) to an undisclosed deal Tuesday, Nov. 25, after waiving PK Brandon McManus, according to a source.

Reggie BushNov 25 03:13p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) said he'll be ready to play Thursday, Nov. 27, after missing Week 12 with an ankle injury.

Latavius MurrayNov 25 02:43p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion) will undergo baseline testing for his concussion Tuesday, Nov. 25, according to a league source. He is feeling good, but he must go [ More ]

Brian HoyerNov 25 01:53p

Cleveland Browns QB Brian Hoyer was never in danger of being benched in favor of QB Johnny Manziel in the team's Week 12 win over the Atlanta Falcons, according [ More ]

Blake BortlesNov 25 01:33p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles went 15-for-27 for just 146 yards and an interception in the team's Week 12 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, and he hasn't tossed a [ More ]

Matthew StaffordNov 25 01:23p

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford had the worst completion percentage in his career in Week 12 against the New England Patriots at 39.1 percent), and the Lions haven't rushed [ More ]

Brodrick BunkleyNov 25 12:03p

New Orleans Saints DT Brodrick Bunkley (quadriceps) is believed to have torn his quadriceps in the team's Week 12 game Monday, Nov. 24, but he'll undergo an MRI exam [ More ]

Jordan CameronNov 25 11:53a

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) is expected to play in Week 13.

Michael VickNov 25 09:53a

New York Jets QB Michael Vick (calf) is expected to start in Week 13 if head coach Rex Ryan is still calling the shots and Vick's calf is healthy.

Andre SmithNov 25 09:23a

Cincinnati Bengals OT Andre Smith (triceps) will miss the rest of the year with a torn triceps that will require surgery.

Justin ForsettNov 25 12:13a

Baltimore Ravens RB Justin Forsett ran for 182 yards and two scores in a 34-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints Monday, Nov. 24.

Latavius MurrayNov 24 08:13p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion) remains a question mark heading into Week 13 against the St. Louis Rams. Head coach Tony Sparano said Murray hasn't passed the league's [ More ]

Larry FitzgeraldNov 24 08:03p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) is unsure when he will return from his knee injury, according to head coach Bruce Arians. We still don't know anything about Larry, [ More ]

Andre EllingtonNov 24 08:03p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington and WR Michael Floyd both saw the fewest offensive snaps of the season in the Week 12 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Ellington played [ More ]

Jorvorskie LaneNov 24 06:43p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers placed FB Jorvorskie Lane (ankle) on the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Nov. 24.

Chris JohnsonNov 24 05:53p

New York Jets RB Chris Johnson will receive work on third downs, because RB Bilal Powell (illness) has been declared inactive for Week 12.

Fred JacksonNov 24 05:43p

Buffalo Bills RB Fred Jackson (groin) is active for the team's Week 12 game.

Bilal PowellNov 24 05:43p

The New York Jets have declared RB Bilal Powell, OL Dakota Dozier, DE IK Enemkpali, CB Josh Thomas, QB Matt Simms, WR Walter Powell, OG Wesley Johnson inactive for Week 12.

Cyrus KouandjioNov 24 05:33p

The Buffalo Bills have declared DE Bryan Johnson, OT Cyrus Kouandjio, FB Frank Summers, DL Jarius Wynn, TE MarQueis Gray, WR Marquise Goodwin, LB Randell Johnson inactive for Week 12.

Eric BerryNov 24 05:13p

The Kansas City Chiefs placed SS Eric Berry (illness) on the Non-Football Illness list Monday, Nov. 24, according to a source. Berry will miss the rest of the season.

Eric BerryNov 24 05:13p

Kansas City Chiefs SS Eric Berry (illness) underwent an MRI on his chest, which revealed a mass in his chest. The team believes he has lymphoma, but there is no definite diagnosis.

R. Griffin IIINov 24 03:33p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III will start Sunday, Nov. 30, against the Indianapolis Colts, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

Jay FeelyNov 24 03:33p

Free-agent PK Jay Feely (Cardinals) will visit the Denver Broncos Tuesday, Nov. 25, for a kicking audition, according to sources.

Vernon DavisNov 24 01:53p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis had three catches for just 21 yards in the team's Week 12 win over the Washington Redskins, and that came after he had [ More ]

Ryan MallettNov 24 01:13p

Houston Texans QB Ryan Mallett (pectoral) is expected to miss the rest of the season because of the pectoral injury he suffered in Week 12.

Tony RomoNov 24 12:43p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back) went 18-for-26 for 275 yards and four touchdowns in Week 12 against the New York Giants, and he didn't show any signs of [ More ]

Shane VereenNov 24 12:33p

New England Patriots RB Shane Vereen had a team-high 62 snaps in the team's Week 12 win over the Detroit Lions, but RB LeGarrette Blount had 17 snaps and [ More ]

C.J. AndersonNov 24 12:23p

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson rushed 27 times for 167 yards and a touchdown in the team's Week 12 win over the Miami Dolphins, and it was the most [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group