Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' checklist for playing Sunday has two primary items on it: taking the majority of first-team snaps in practice Friday, and getting good results from a scan on his healing left collarbone.
If both those things happen, Rodgers could be back under center for the first time since breaking his collarbone Nov. 4 against Chicago.
Asked after Thursday's practice if he is holding out hope of playing Sunday, Rodgers paused before replying, "Yes."
He says he'll need to get most of the work in Friday's practice after sharing snaps with backup Matt Flynn for the past two days, and the team will likely want team physician Patrick McKenzie to examine him. Rodgers' last CT scan was done on Dec. 3 and did not show sufficient healing in the bone to get him cleared to play.
As of Thursday afternoon, Rodgers said he had not been scanned. He also would not say whether a scan has been scheduled. Asked if he would be scanned before the week is out, Rodgers replied, "I'm not sure about that."
But asked if that would be the deciding factor in whether he plays, Rodgers replied, "I think there's more to it than that. But I would guess there would have to be another scan for me to be on the field."
With Rodgers sidelined, the Packers have gone 1-4-1 and enter the final three weeks of the season at 6-6-1, a half-game back of the NFC North leading Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, both of whom are 7-6. McCarthy has said that his team needs to win out to make the playoffs, and the Packers got the first of those victories last week over the Atlanta Falcons with Matt Flynn at quarterback.
Rodgers indicated that the team would make a decision on his status on Friday, in fairness to Flynn. In 2008, after dislocating his shoulder the previous week, Rodgers was listed as doubtful going into a game against the Falcons at Lambeau Field but worked out before the game and started, despite taking only about 10 snaps in 11-on-11 drills in practice - all handoffs - all week.
Rodgers completed 25 of 37 passes for 313 yards with three touchdowns and one interception (109.4 rating) in a 27-24 loss.
"Like I said last week, when I knew it wasn't going to happen, it's not fair to Matt to draw this out to the game," Rodgers said. "Now, that happened back in 2008 when I was doubtful, came in Sunday and was able to play. (But) if I'm going to play Sunday, I'm going to need to take the majority of the reps tomorrow."
On Tuesday, Rodgers revealed on his weekly radio show on that he experienced unexpected pain in practice last week when trying to hand off with his left hand or take snaps from center. That pain told him that he wasn't going to be ready for the Falcons.
This week, after taking snaps with the No. 1 offense both Wednesday and Thursday, Rodgers did not experience the same amount of pain.
"I feel a little better than last week," Rodgers said. "It was good to be out there with those guys, but I'm still just trying to get better every day and it's nice to be able to go through a couple practices."
Rodgers said he "felt a little bit rusty yesterday, took a little bit more as far as reps today and felt better, felt like I was moving well. I feel rested, my legs do. (I've) been able to do more in the weight room, but I felt better out there throwing it well. But there's a lot that goes into it from the ground up - legs, being in the right position, footwork and stuff. Today was a better day."
Quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo said that Rodgers, Flynn and No. 3 quarterback Scott Tolzien are all being prepped to play. He wouldn't divulge what the Packers' plans are, keeping the Cowboys in the dark for at least another day.
"I think he looks good," McAdoo said of Rodgers. "Last week, we had three guys practicing and getting three guys ready to play, and it happened that he didn't play. This week, we're getting three guys ready to go. We'll see how it shakes out at the end of the week."