Unfortunately for the Green Bay Packers, Turkey Day 2013 will not be one where they get to feast on Aaron Rodgers touchdowns.
The secondary-carving quarterback, who has spent his November growing an awesome mustache and rehabbing a broken left collarbone rather than winning games for the Pack, has already been ruled out for Thursday's contest against the Detroit Lions.
ESPN's Rob Demovsky has the news:
As expected, #Packers have ruled out Aaron Rodgers.— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) November 27, 2013
McCarthy: Matt Flynn will be the starter.— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) November 27, 2013
With that being said, it's not all reason for doom and gloom in Green Bay, as it took much longer for the Packers to rule out Rodgers this time around.
Before Thursday's game, Rodgers told ESPN's Bob Holtzman, via SportsCenter's Twitter feed, that he thinks his injury is completely healed and he hopes to play next week:
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers says he hopes to play next Sunday, and he thinks his collarbone is completely healed. (via @BobHoltzmanESPN)— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 28, 2013
As Lori Nickel and Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pointed out, the Discount Double-Check guy practiced for the first time since suffering his injury at the beginning of November. Head coach Mike McCarthy talked about giving Rodgers a chance to get in some reps, per the same report:
"First, Monday we wanted to make sure Aaron had an opportunity to get down on the field and work," said McCarthy on Wednesday during his news conference after practice.
The head coach also called it a "good day" for Rodgers, via Packers.com's Mike Spofford. "This was a big day actually for him," said McCarthy.
Silverstein gave us a glimpse of Rodgers participating in drills earlier in the week:
Rodgers throwing in practice. pic.twitter.com/L9Wfie5Bud— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) November 26, 2013
Now, these may seem like very minute details. But when you have a player who has been given the "out" designation about as early as possible in the previous weeks, the sheer fact that there was speculation about his status—even if his limited availability caused most to assume he would be out—is cause for optimism.
Even though he won't return for Thursday's crucial NFC North battle, his mere return to the practice field is beneficial to the Packers:
“It was motivating to see ‘12’ out there today,” tight end Andrew Quarless said in the above report from Spofford. “That’s our leader. He was running around, cracking jokes, same A-Rod. He definitely brings the right energy back to practice.”
Following Thursday's Thanksgiving matchup, the Packers have 10 days before their Week 14 tilt with the Atlanta Falcons.
With the way Rodgers is progressing, and his comments about being healed, it's really difficult to imagine he won't be ready for that contest. ESPN medical expert Dr. Mark Adickes gave even more reason for optimism:
#Packers QB Aaron Rodgers ruled out playing in Thanksgiving day game as expected. Good chance he plays soon given return to practice field.— Dr. Mark Adickes (@jocktodoc) November 28, 2013
But should the Pack understandably want to play it extra-extra-extra (that's three extras!) safe, that's a game they can win without their superstar under center, as the 2-9 Falcons are winless on the road this season.
When do you think Rodgers will return?
That would give Rodgers, in total, 17 days from Thanksgiving—plenty of time to get back to game speed and reacclimated with the offense—before a Week 15 matchup at Dallas where he would truly be needed.
So, while Rodgers won't be out there for Green Bay's annual Thanksgiving game, the outlook certainly became far brighter this week, and with the playoffs still in reach, Packers fans can be thankful that help is undoubtedly on the way.