Aaron Rodgers. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

'The moment is here' ... Aaron Rodgers cleared for takeoff

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Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy told the world this afternoon that it’s “time for Aaron Rodgers to play football” and that “the moment is here” for Rodgers’ return.


“Every football player will have risk. We’ve done our due diligence … It’s time for Aaron to play,” McCarthy said.

“Aaron’s obviously very important to our team. we need to go down there and win the game as a team.”

Those were just a couple of statements made by McCarthy in making the announcement so many have been awaiting.

The news started trickling out on Twitter this morning by the beat writers covering a portion of the Green Bay Packers practice, and the official announcement was made by head coach Mike McCarthy that quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been cleared to start against the Chicago Bears Sunday.

After weeks of speculation by fans and the media and outward frustration by Rodgers, saying he was ready to play, the official reboot button for the all-world quarterback wasn’t pushed until today. Rodgers, who has been practicing with the team for a month, was held up only by team physician Dr. Patrick McKenzie, who would not medically clear Rodgers to play.

That all changed today, as did the makeup of the team.

Matt Flynn Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Matt Flynn
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

The Packers went winless in November after Rodgers went out Nov. 4 against the Bears after being tackled by defensive end Shea McClellin. Since Rodgers has been out, the Packers offense has slowly melded and it has been two miraculous comebacks turned in by backup Matt Flynn that allowed the Packers to win in December. His first comeback against the Minnesota Vikings fell just short when the teams turned in a tie.

The addition of Rodgers certainly changes the complexion of the team. Not only will it change the Packers game planning, but will also change how the Bears prepare.

Other questions surrounding the status of running back Eddie Lacy present another issue with which the Packers may have to work around – though McCarthy said he expects Lacy to play on Sunday.

However, if he doesn’t or is re-injured, his backup, James Starks is a solid runner, but the Packers will most likely utilize him differently and could look at former Bear Kahlil Bell to spell Starks – if Lacy isn’t ready to play. They also have the option to utilize John Kuhn in the backfield if necessary, though I think the Packers would use him at running back only in an extreme situation.

In addition to the news about Rodgers and Lacy, McCarthy was also upbeat about the status of wide receiver Randall Cobb. There is a distinct possibility that he could also see the field come Sunday. He’s been practicing well and McCarthy said things were looking positive for him.

But the big news of the day surrounds Rodgers. Everything looks great, but other questions should be raised as the rest of the week proceeds – for instance, will he show signs of rust? After all, he hasn’t played in nearly two months.

Stay tuned …

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