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

Jamarca SanfordMar 6 01:33p

New Orleans Saints SS Jamarca Sanford re-signed to a one-year contract Friday, March 6. Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Brandon MarshallMar 6 01:23p

Chicago Bears WR Brandon Marshall was traded to the New York Jets in exchange for a fifth-round pick, pending a physical, per a league source.

Niles PaulMar 6 12:33p

Washington Redskins TE Niles Paul re-signed Friday, March 6. Paul could earn up to a little under $10 million with the new contract.

Matt PraterMar 6 12:13p

Detroit Lions PK Matt Prater signed a three-year, $9 million contract extension Friday, March 6.

Marques ColstonMar 6 10:43a

New Orleans Saints WR Marques Colston restructured his contract Friday, March 6, and will return in 2015.

Reggie WayneMar 6 10:43a

Indianapolis Colts impending free-agent WR Reggie Wayne will not be re-signed for 2015, the team announced Friday, March 6.

Jerome SimpsonMar 5 05:33p

Free-agent WR Jerome Simpson (Vikings) signed a two-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers Thursday, March 5.

LaMarr WoodleyMar 5 05:13p

Oakland Raiders LB LaMarr Woodley was officially released Thursday, March 5.

Vince WilforkMar 5 01:23p

Free-agent DT Vince Wilfork (Patriots) said he still plans to play in 2015, and he could return to the New England Patriots. 'Can I still play football? Hell yea! [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 5 01:03p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's meeting with head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman Wednesday, March 4, went well after the parties spent more than four hours [ More ]

Peyton ManningMar 5 12:53p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning officially passed his physical and will return for the 2015 season.

Dwayne BoweMar 5 11:53a

Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe my be cut if the team can not trade him.

Vince WilforkMar 5 09:53a

New England Patriots DT Vince Wilfork announced that the Patriots will not pick up his option for the 2015 season, which makes him a free agent.

Darnell DockettMar 5 09:53a

Free-agent DE Darnell Dockett (Cardinals) agreed with the San Francisco 49ers Thursday, March 5, according to his agent Drew Rosenhaus.

Keith RiversMar 4 08:23p

Free-agent LB Keith Rivers (Bills) signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys Wednesday, March 4. Rivers will add depth to the team's linebacking group. He has plenty of [ More ]

Matt CasselMar 4 07:53p

Minnesota Vikings QB Matt Cassel was traded to the Buffalo Bills Wednesday, March 4. The Bills swapped their 2015 fifth-round pick for the Vikings 2015 sixth-round draft pick. Minnesota [ More ]

Pierre ThomasMar 4 07:53p

New Orleans Saints RB Pierre Thomas was released Wednesday, March 4.

Trent ColeMar 4 04:13p

Philadelphia Eagles LB Trent Cole was officially cut Wednesday, March 4.

DeMeco RyansMar 4 01:03p

Philadelphia Eagles LB DeMeco Ryans (Achilles'), who tore his Achilles' halfway through the 2014 season, probably won't be back with the team after they acquired LB Kiko Alonso from [ More ]

Andre JohnsonMar 4 11:23a

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson has asked the team to release him this offseason.

LeSean McCoyMar 3 06:43p

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy will reportedly be traded for Buffalo Bills LB Kiko Alonso.

Kiko AlonsoMar 3 06:43p

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy will reportedly be traded for Buffalo Bills LB Kiko Alonso.

Tyvon BranchMar 3 05:23p

Oakland Raiders SS Tyvon Branch was officially released, as expected, Tuesday, March 3.

DeMarco MurrayMar 3 01:43p

Dallas Cowboys impending free-agent RB DeMarco Murray would likely re-sign with the Cowboys if the offer they make him is equal or similar financially to offers he receives from [ More ]

Cole BeasleyMar 3 01:13p

Dallas Cowboys WR Cole Beasley agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $13.1 million. The extension could be worth as much as $15.1 million.

Andre JohnsonMar 2 11:03p

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson was asked to accept a reduced role, but he declined and asked to be traded or cut, according to people familiar with the situation.

Bernard PollardMar 2 07:23p

Tennessee Titans SS Bernard Pollard has been informed that he will be released, according to sources familiar with the situation. Pollard asked the Titans to release him last month. [ More ]

Le'Veon BellMar 2 04:33p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell could be suspended up to four games, according to the NFL's new substance-abuse policy. A two-game suspension is standard for a DUI resulting from [ More ]

J.D. WaltonMar 2 04:13p

New York Giants C J.D. Walton was released Monday, March 2.

Lance MooreMar 2 04:03p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Lance Moore was released Monday, March 2.

Brad JonesMar 2 03:53p

Free-agent LB Brad Jones (Packers) signed a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, March 2. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Charles ClayMar 2 03:12p

Miami Dolphins TE Charles Clay received the transition tag Monday, March 2, according to a source. The transition tag for tight ends is worth $7.071 million.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group