2015 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

Brandon ColemanSep 2 10:03p

New Orleans Saints WR Brandon Coleman has impressed QB Drew Brees during training camp and the preseason. The quarterback said Tuesday, Sept. 2, that he has a great comfort level with Coleman.

Richard RodgersSep 2 09:43p

Green Bay Packers TE Richard Rodgers is expected to see more opportunities in the passing game with WR Jordy Nelson (knee) done for the season.

Melvin GordonSep 2 08:23p

San Diego Chargers RBs Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead, Branden Oliver and Donald Brown will be part of a committee at running back this season, according to QB Philip Rivers. [ More ]

Randall CobbSep 2 07:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Randall Cobb (shoulder) said he'd be comfortable starting in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears even if he doesn't practice next week. However, wide receivers [ More ]

Giovani BernardSep 2 06:03p

Cincinnati Bengals RBs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard both finished among the top-16 running backs in point-per-reception leagues last season.

Tom BradySep 2 04:33p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady doesn't look like he'll reach a settlement with the NFL. The league and the NFL Player's Associated have not had any talks regarding [ More ]

Victor CruzSep 2 04:03p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (calf) is doubtful to play Week 1, according to ESPNNewYork.com's Dan Graziano. Cruz has not yet been cleared to practice and did not participate in the preseason.

LeSean McCoySep 2 01:43p

Updating an earlier report, Buffalo Bills RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) may not be in great 'football shape' once Week 1 rolls around, according to a source. He's not at [ More ]

LeSean McCoySep 2 12:43p

Buffalo Bills RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) seems to be in some danger of missing the season opener Sept. 13. 'Well we certainly expect him to be ready to go, [ More ]

EJ ManuelSep 2 11:33a

Buffalo Bills QB EJ Manuel is expected to remain on the team as the backup quarterback. There is growing expectations that QB Matt Cassel will be cut.

Matt CasselSep 2 09:23a

Buffalo Bills QB Matt Cassel could be cut by the team, as they are internally discussing the option.

Joseph RandleSep 2 08:33a

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle could have 10-15 carries per game with RB Darren McFadden slightly below that, in the opinion of beat writer Drew Davison

Travis CoonsSep 1 11:03p

Cleveland Browns PK Travis Coons edged out PK Carey Spear, winning the battle for the placekicking job. 'Yeah, it was close. I thought both guys handled themselves very well, [ More ]

Nick ToonSep 1 07:43p

New Orleans Saints WRs Nick Toon, Lance Lewis and R.J. Harris were released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Randall CobbSep 1 06:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Randall Cobb (shoulder) thinks his sprained right shoulder will be good to go to play in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears in 12 days. [ More ]

James ButlerSep 1 05:53p

Green Bay Packers WR James Butler and TE Harold Spears were released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Julius ThomasSep 1 05:23p

Jacksonville Jaguars TE Julius Thomas (finger) will undergo surgery on his injured finger Wednesday, Sept. 2, according to a source. Thomas is expected to miss four to five weeks.

Zac DysertSep 1 05:13p

Free-agent QB Zac Dysert (Broncos) was claimed by the Chicago Bears Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Tom BradySep 1 05:03p

Updating a previous report, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will know his fate by the end of this week. Judge Richard Berman said he will issue his decision and order by that time.

Matt BlanchardSep 1 04:53p

Green Bay Packers QB Matt Blanchard was released Tuesday, Sept. 1, according to a source.

Juron CrinerSep 1 04:32p

New York Giants RB Akeem Hunt (hamstring) was waived/injured Tuesday, Sept. 1. WRs Juron Criner and Derrick X. Johnson and TE Will Tye were also waived.

Robert HerronSep 1 04:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Robert Herron was waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Phil TaylorSep 1 04:23p

Cleveland Browns DT Phil Taylor was released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Junior HemingwaySep 1 04:12p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Junior Hemingway was waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Michael HillSep 1 04:12p

Dallas Cowboys RB Michael Hill (undisclosed) was waived/injured Tuesday, Sept. 1. WRs Antwan Goodley and David Porter and TE Brandon Barden were also waived.

Travis KelceSep 1 03:03p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (ankle) would be able to play if the Chiefs had a game Tuesday, Sept. 1, according to head coach Andy Reid. Kelce is recovering from an ankle sprain.

Jarrett BoykinSep 1 03:03p

Carolina Panthers WRs Jarrett Boykin and De'Andre Presley were waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Jace AmaroSep 1 01:33p

New York Jets TE Jace Amaro (shoulder) will have season-ending shoulder surgery and will be placed on the Reserve/Injured list.

Erik LorigSep 1 12:33p

New Orleans Saints FB Erik Lorig was cut Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Nathan PalmerSep 1 11:53a

Denver Broncos WR Nathan Palmer was waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Devonta FreemanSep 1 11:32a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman was the most active in practice Monday, Aug. 31, that he was been since a hamstring injury Aug. 6. It's unclear whether he'll play [ More ]

Jarrett BoykinSep 1 10:33a

Carolina Panthers WR Jarrett Boykin was released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

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