By RICK SOLEM
Aaron Rodgers is back. It’s about time.
Now that it’s all said and done - now that everyone has jumped off, and on, and off and, again, back on the bandwagon - it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Green Bay Packers ride this momentum deep into playoffs.
Of course, they have to beat the Bears, first. But that shouldn't be a problem. Not just because the Bears still suck, but because of the energy that’s going to flow through this team and the simple fact that, eight weeks ago, it was the Bears that took out the 30-year-old quarterback.
“What a better way than to go down there, get some redemption and host a playoff game,” Rodgers said Thursday after Packers coach Mike McCarthy’s early afternoon press conference announced Rodgers would be the starter.
The Packers control their own destiny: Beat the Bears, win the division and host the first round of the playoffs. Teams always want to go into the playoffs with some momentum and that’s exactly what’s happening with Green Bay.
Not just with the energy Rodgers gives to the rest of the team, but the way a lot of players have stepped in on offense while he and others were out.
Reports are that Randall Cobb was close to playing last week and could be a go for the regular-season finale.
If ‘the organization,’ as McCarthy kept referring when announcing Rodgers wouldn’t play last week, wasn’t risking Rodgers then because there was too many questions about making the playoffs, it certainly wasn’t going to risk Cobb.
But now, Rodgers is back, may as well go all in on making this playoff run and throw Cobb out there, too. He said he's confident, though he didn't sound all that confident.
This has been a perfect storm for Green Bay. Rodgers and Cobb get time to heal, and, in the meantime, Jarrett Boykin and Eddie Lacy turned into soon-to-be superstars.
The hope now is Rodgers can shake off the rust and play with a certain amount of poise, without trying to prove to the world he hasn’t lost his touch.
It’s bound to happen, however. He’s going to come out a little hot, like Brett Favre used to when playing a big game. And this is, of course, the biggest game of the season so far.
“It’s been a difficult process for me, thinking I was going to have a chance every week and then, obviously, the medical decision based on what we saw and the organization with the ultimate call,” Rodgers said Thursday, obviously a little frustrated with ‘the organization’ holding him out. “This the first round of the playoffs for us.”
Rodgers may not just come out overly excited to play, but a little mad about how everything was handled.
Lacy didn’t practice Thursday, but there’s no real indication he’ll sit out Sunday. McCarthy said he expects him to play.
The other big name the Packers are certain to be without is linebacker Clay Matthews, who re-injured his thumb – which caused him to miss four games earlier this season - during a sack against Pittsburgh.