Rodgers has sent messages that he’s fine and is going to play, but Packers coach Mike McCarthy is still uncertain.
"It's definitely possible," McCarthy said Monday about Rodgers missing this Sunday’s game. "I know at a minimum he'll miss some practice time."
A trendy Super Bowl pick in the preseason, the Packers have already lost running back Ryan Grant, safety Morgan Burnett, defensive lineman Justin Harrell and, possibly, linebacker Nick Barnett for the season. This past Sunday, Rodgers wasn’t the only casualty. Donald Lee, Jermichael Finley, Derrick Martin and Clay Matthews left the game as well.
However, the main focus now is on Rodgers. The former first-round pick hasn’t missed a game since taking over as a starter in 2008. In fact, the Packers have only had two starting quarterbacks since 1992 (Brett Favre and Rodgers).
With a crowded playoff race already playing out in both conferences, it’s certain the Packers will do everything they can to prepare Rodgers.
However, with the alarming attention being paid to head injuries by the league, stricter guidelines have been put in place to protect players. A player must be free of all concussion symptoms and cleared not only by the team doctor, but by an approved neurologist that is unaffiliated with the team before he can return to action.
Not only that, but he must go through the full evaluation process to see how he’s recovering and go through exertion testing, meaning evaluating the player after rigorous workouts. Gone are former practices of just letting a player return once concussion symptoms merely subside since it is known that concussion symptoms can reappear hours and even days after the initial blow.
Cautionary actions have already been witnessed when Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb was cleared to play a Friday before a game this year, yet still remained inactive. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler also sat this week after suffering a concussion the week before.
The Packers have lost two of their last three games and didn’t look particularly impressive in their win over the lowly Detroit Lions. With a season of so much promise potentially slipping, it’s hard to say whether the Packers and Rodgers will take caution over passion for the season, but then again, if he is cleared to play, what’s the problem?
The problem is that while the links to depression, memory problems, speech impediments, headaches, and more have been well documented, for the players with repeat concussions and those that hadn’t fully recovered, the evidence and studies show even higher percentages.
Rodgers potential replacement, Matt Flynn, has thrown 17 passes in his pro career, making him unproven at best. And while still a young team, you never know how many chances you will have at the postseason. Dropping a game this Sunday could potentially put the Packers two games behind the NFC North-leading Bears.
No doubt the Packers, and Rodgers himself, want the quarterback to play, but with the horror stories of the former players and head injuries, what do you compromise: the season, or your life after the game?