- Stacy Revere/Getty
- Aaron Rodgers was placed on the Injured Reserve on October 20 following surgery to his broken collarbone.
- Rodgers resumed throwing and could practice this Saturday but cannot play until Week 15 at the earliest.
- A Packers team in the playoff hunt may wish they had not put Rodgers on the IR if he’s ready to play sooner than Week 15.
Aaron Rodgers is getting closer to a potential return to the football field, but the timing may be excruciating for the Green Bay Packers.
Rodgers broke his collarbone against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6 and underwent surgery that required several plates and screws. He was placed on the injured reserve on October 20.
Placing Rodgers on the IR was not a silly or far-fetched move by the Packers. Rodgers would obviously be out for a long period of time, and in doing so, the Packers freed up a roster spot.
Now, however, that move could come back to haunt them.
Players on the IR can practice after six weeks if they’re able and can return to games after eight weeks. Rodgers is eligible to practice for the first time on Saturday and has already been throwing in recent weeks. Prior the Packers’ Week 12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rodgers was on the field throwing balls as far as 50 yards, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky.
His motion looked fluid here:
Less than 6 weeks ago, AaronRodgers had surgery on his collarbone.
Sunday he was throwing passes 30 to 50 yards using that sameshoulder. pic.twitter.com/nmgXBbXnnh
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 27, 2017
The problem for the 5-6 Packers is that if they want to make a run for the postseason, they’ll need Rodgers sooner rather than later. In the competitive NFC, the Packers have a chance at a Wild Card spot, though it’s a long shot. Still, there may be some agonizing over Rodgers being on the IR until at least December 17.
LB Clay Matthews said that being with Aaron Rodgers in the rehab group has allowed him to see how far the QB has come. Said, “We probably shouldn’t have put him on IR.”
— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) November 29, 2017
To make the postseason, the Packers would likely have to run the table over the next five games. That makes their Week 13 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers basically a must-win, as going 5-7 may doom their playoff chances. But if the Packers win and move to 6-6, it would be appealing to have Rodgers back on the field for the final four games, assuming he’s healthy. If the Packers can win their next two games, it makes a Rodgers return more likely in Week 15, as the Packers could still have a shot at the playoffs.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy didn’t offer much on Rodgers’ timetable to reporters, though he suggested he’s looked good.
We’ll see,” McCarthy said Monday. “I mean, he’s still going through – there’s a protocol, there’s targets we’re trying to hit each and every week. I think they’re working [on it], and it’s segmented … He’s knocking it out of the park, he’s going at it 120 miles an hour. We’ll see what the end of the week brings.”
Rodgers has insisted that he won’t come back unless he’s fully healthy. If the Packers lose one of their next two games, that likely will give him less incentive to return.
But if Rodgers wasn’t on the IR, and if he was healthy enough to play, it would be enticing for a Packers team trying to make the playoffs to welcome back their star quarterback.