Aaron Rodgers Should Play Sunday, Mike Neal May Not
The Packers finally received some good injury news this week: quarterback Aaron Rodgers was able to participate in Thursday’s practice. Rodgers admitted he felt “off” after suffering a concussion in Sunday’s loss to the Redskins, but says he should be ready to go this weekend.
“I’ve gone through the process that the NFL requires,” Rodgers said. “I’ve been cleared by our doctors, by an outside source. And I think it’s just a matter of how I feel tomorrow [Friday]. And I’m very optimistic.”
Providing further evidence that Rodgers will start on Sunday, head coach Mike McCarthy gave Rodgers the majority of the snaps in practice. Barring a setback, McCarthy sounded optimistic that his quarterback will be ready.
“The protocol as far as all the testing and so forth from the medical staff and the off-campus doctor has been completed,” McCarthy said. “But it’s like anything. There may be potentially a setback or something. That’s why we limited him today at practice.”
Rodgers being cleared to practice is good news for a team that has been decimated by injuries. The Packers have a total of 15 players on this week’s injury report. Among them is rookie defensive lineman Mike Neal.
Neal has already missed three games this season due to a rib injury, and an injured shoulder may keep him out of his fourth. Neal told reporters on Wednesday that he was 100%, but failed to disclose that he wore a shoulder brace under his pads throughout practice. Initially thought to be a minor injury, coach McCarthy told reporters on Thursday that Neal will be reevaluated on Friday.
“Mike had a sore shoulder coming out of the game, didn’t think much of it and went out and practiced yesterday, and when he came in this morning he was struggling,” said McCarthy. “He’s been evaluated, and actually there’s going to be some testing and some rehab that was done this afternoon. I should know more about Mike in the morning.”
With veteran defensive lineman Ryan Pickett most likely out with a sprained ankle, the Packers are dangerously thin on the defensive line. Without Neal, the Packers will have four healthy defensive lineman: B.J. Raji, Cullen Jenkins, C.J. Wilson, and Jarius Wynn.
Not only will those four be expected to provide pressure on Dolphins’ quarterback Chad Henne, they will also be asked to stop the two-pronged rushing attack of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.
The Packers are hoping Aaron Rodgers and the offense will find a rhythm this week, and thus keep the beleaguered defense off the field. Perhaps the best defense will be a good offense.