Recovering from illness and calf strain, Rodgers should be ready for Packers against Detroit



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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) gives the thumbs up to fans as he leaves the field following the team's 20-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)


GREEN BAY, Wisconsin — Fighting back sniffles in front of his locker, Aaron Rodgers sounded at times like he would be better off resting up in bed.

But a lingering illness didn't keep the quarterback from Packers practice Tuesday. It doesn't sound like a strained left calf will keep him from playing in Sunday's showdown against the Detroit Lions, either, for the NFC North title.

"I'm feeling good — except for the sickness and the calf thing," Rodgers said with a laugh. "Other than that, I'm great, yeah."

Coach Mike McCarthy doesn't seem too concerned that Rodgers will be available to face the Lions after the quarterback tweaked the calf in last week's 20-3 win over Tampa Bay. He was already feeling ill by then, too.

"Yes, I think so," Rodgers said simply when asked if he would be ready for Sunday.

Assuming Rodgers does play, it's unclear how the illness and calf strain might affect his mobility. While he's not a run-pass threat, Rodgers is one of the best in the league in extending plays, and throwing the ball on the run while buying extra time.

Against Tampa, McCarthy said he had to adjust the game plan so that his quarterback wasn't further exposed to injury. Rodgers said he wasn't quite the running threat after the injury.

Now into Lambeau Field comes Detroit with one of the top defenses in the league. The Lions can build on the confidence of holding Green Bay to a season-low seven points in Week 3.

Having Rodgers at full strength with the full playbook at his disposal would definitely help the Packers, who seek a fourth straight division title.

"We have a full-plate game plan and I'm confident he'll be able to run it," McCarthy said.

Rodgers said the Packers will adjust accordingly if he doesn't have full mobility. But he's also hoping the holiday schedule will help in the recovery process.

Green Bay practiced Tuesday, which is an off day in a normal week, but gets Christmas Day off Thursday in exchange. Then it's back to a normal work week, with the Packers back on the practice field Friday.

"I'd like to think with the Christmas holiday and everything that comes with it, that I'll be able to move around well enough," Rodgers said.

Tuesday ended up being a lighter day, too, with a concentration on fundamentals and scheme work. There was no official injury report — that's next due on Wednesday — though McCarthy said he thought his quarterback was getting better.

It sure would help Green Bay if it could run the ball against Detroit, something that not a lot of teams have done successfully this year.

In Week 3, the Lions limited the Packers to 76 yards on the ground. The running game has picked up since and reached 110 yards or more in nine of the last 10 games, including seven straight.

The run game improvement has coincided with the Packers' offensive outbursts at home, where they are 7-0.

"I have no idea," running back Eddie Lacy said when asked about the improvement. "It just clicked, and you don't question it, you just continue to roll with it."

A lot of the success has to do with the offensive line, which McCarthy has said could be one of the best in the nine years he's been in Green Bay.

Plenty of it also has to do with the big-play threat in the passing game provided by Rodgers and receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

"You just know it's going to be a game where you have to be very efficient throwing the ball, and you have to look for those opportunities for extended plays in the run game and the pass game," Rodgers said.

NOTES: The team unveiled a "Get Loud Lambeau" campaign aimed at creating more noise on Sunday. "Standing up and getting loud during appropriate times, such as while the Packers are on defense, can make Lambeau Field an even more electric and exciting game day atmosphere," a team statement said. Players wore workout shirts with the same slogan. ... McCarthy said working on Christmas was "just not right in my opinion. I think our players, coaches, support staff will be where they're supposed to be for Christmas Eve and Christmas."


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