GREEN BAY — Clay Matthews and Jordy Nelson aren’t sure when — or if — their quarterback will be back. But the two Green Bay Packers veterans and pals of Aaron Rodgers know this much: They’re impressed by what appears to be an incredible recovery from the broken right collarbone he suffered six weeks ago.
Matthews got an up-close look at Rodgers’ recovery last week, when he was sidelined with a groin injury and spent practice working with the rehabilitation group — a group that included Rodgers. Rodgers, who broke his collarbone Oct. 15 at Minnesota, underwent surgery four days later and was placed on injured reserve the day after the surgery, drew a lot of attention before last Sunday night’s loss to Pittsburgh by throwing at Heinz Field.
Matthews said he wasn’t surprised by Rodgers’ workout before the game because he’d seen his buddy and State Farm commercial co-star work all week long.
“To watch Aaron, what he’s been doing in there, I think we probably should have kept him off IR,” Matthews said Wednesday as the Packers prepared for their sixth straight game without Rodgers, Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lambeau Field. “The way he’s coming along, some of the balls he’s throwing, accuracy-wise, everything a quarterback has to do — (it) is pretty remarkable.
“It would be really neat to see him out there, but unfortunately, he’ll have to wait two weeks prior to coming back.”
Rodgers is eligible to be designated for return from injured reserve this week and could return to practice on Saturday, since the Packers don’t practice on Fridays. But he cannot play in this week’s game or the team’s Dec. 10 game at Cleveland; the first game he’d be eligible to play in would be Dec. 17 at Carolina.
Rodgers had not undergone x-rays on his collarbone as of earlier this week, so it’s unclear just how much the bone has healed after being repaired with two plates and 13 screws. Rodgers made it clear after the injury he would only return this season if the bone had healed and if the Packers were still in playoff contention — something that’s iffy at 5-6 and with only one victory since his injury.
“We have to win these next five. I mean, that’s the reality of it. I don’t have any ‘relax’ one-liners or ‘run the table’ or whatever. I’ll leave that up to Aaron,” Matthews said. But that’s the reality of it. We have to get it done. We have to win these next two and when Aaron’s back at the helm, we have a pretty good squad. That’s the reality of it. So, hopefully we get to see him because that means we’re winning ballgames.
“Obviously, from talking to Aaron — I don’t want to speak on his behalf — but if he’s not ready to come back, he’s not coming back. I mean, especially with it being his throwing shoulder,” Matthews said. “I’m sure he’s got to work through some things. But hopefully, we’ll get to see these next two weeks.”
Added Nelson: “If he is (able to come back), that’d be great. Obviously, that means he’s progressed and dong what he needs to do to be ready if he’s able to come back. It’d be fun to see him out there, but obviously that won’t affect what’s going on for Sunday.”
Matthews and defensive tackle Kenny Clark (ankle) were both able to practice on a limited basis Wednesday, giving the defense hope of having two of its key players back in the lineup. Matthews left the Packers’ Nov. 19 loss to Baltimore with a groin injury and Clark left the game after getting caught up in a pile and sustaining a high-ankle sprain. Neither played last Sunday night against the Steelers.
“I’m feeling good, actually. I did some running pre-game Sunday and it wasn’t quite there yet. I don’t think I could have made it through a game,” Matthews said. “But every day I was getting exponentially better, so I feel really good today. I was able to take some team reps — granted, it was a light practice — but I definitely envision seeing myself out there Sunday.”
Said Clark: “It’s good to be back practicing. I want to (play Sunday). I’m optimistic about it and everything. My body has been healing fast, too. I just have to keep on going with the same process I’ve been doing.”
The Packers also listed running Aaron Jones (knee) as a limited participant, and he was able to do some drill work during the portion of practice open to reporters. It seems unlikely that he’ll return this week but it appears he’s healed faster than expected after doing down at Chicago on Nov. 12.
Cornerback Kevin King, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury all year and was in-and-out of the lineup against the Steelers, did not practice. Nor did running back Ty Montgomery, who is now listed on the injury report with rib and wrist injuries.
Kendricks 'not cited'
Tight end Lance Kendricks only received a warning for speeding but has not at this point been ticketed or charged with marijuana possession in the wake of a Sept. 2 incident that came to light this week when TMZ posted a dash cam video of him being pulled over on I-41.
The TMZ report Saturday said Kendricks was cited for marijuana and drug paraphernalia, but Kendricks told reporters Wednesday that wasn’t the case.
“I was actually given a warning for a speeding ticket,” Kendricks said Wednesday. “I wasn’t cited, and I wasn’t arrested. So everything else is not true.”
A Wisconsin state trooper pulled Kendricks over at 1:31 a.m. on Sept. 2 as he was driving back from Madison, having attended the University of Wisconsin’s season-opening win over Utah State. Kendricks is a former Badgers tight end.
The trooper smelled marijuana while she spoke with Kendricks and later found a container with marijuana, rolling papers and a metal grinder before telling Kendricks she would refer charges to the Outagamie County District Attorney’s office. At one point in the video, Kendricks mentions that he plays for the Packers.
“It was a really friendly officer,” Kendricks said. “She was nice enough to tell me I was going 81 in a 70, and she let me go home.”