Aaron Rodgers’ return is a go. The Green Bay Packers’ two-time MVP quarterback, who was placed on injured reserve after breaking his right collarbone Oct. 15 against Minnesota, is on track to practice Saturday, coach Mike McCarthy said.
“He’s got a workout today that we’ll obviously evaluate,” McCarthy said Friday. “We’re looking tomorrow to potentially practice him in a trial return. That’s the outlook.”
Rodgers had surgery on Oct. 19 and was placed on injured reserve the following day. NFL rules allow teams to bring back two players off injured reserve. Those players must be sidelined for a minimum of six weeks; Friday marked six weeks for Rodgers.
Rodgers threw several passes of at least 50 yards before Sunday night’s loss to Pittsburgh.
“You saw him throwing out there in Pittsburgh,” quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said Thursday. “He’s doing well. He’s getting healthy and he’s following right along in rehab. He’s probably ahead of the curve a little bit, but there’s really not anything to talk about until there’s something to talk about.”
Now there is something to talk about. If the Packers (5-6) can stay in the playoff race by beating Tampa Bay (4-7) on Sunday and Cleveland (0-11) next weekend, Rodgers could return for the Dec. 17 game at Carolina.
Rodgers’ potential return to practice should provide a lift for a team that lost the Minnesota game and four of the five starts by Brett Hundley.
“Absolutely, I think it’s a big deal when you see your leader out there,” McCarthy said. “The guys have been able to watch him work here the last couple weeks. He’s been going through the fundamental part of it. That’d be great to have him out there.”
Even if Rodgers returns to the lineup, the Packers face a challenging final three games with contests against the Panthers (8-3), Minnesota Vikings (9-2) and Detroit Lions (6-5).
Meanwhile, the Packers placed running back Ty Montgomery (broken ribs) on injured reserve. Montgomery had missed the last two games. His roster spot was filled by rookie receiver Michael Clark, who was promoted from the practice squad. Starting cornerback Kevin King (shoulder) was ruled out for Sunday’s game. Two defensive starters who were sidelined last weekend, Matthews (groin) and defensive tackle Kenny Clark (ankle), are questionable.
Oakland Raiders guard Gabe Jackson was fined $30,387 by the NFL for making contact with an official during the Raiders’ victory over the Denver Broncos last weekend.
Jackson was ejected from the game when he made contact with official Laird Hayes in the first quarter during a brawl last Sunday that began when Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib and Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree shoved each other. Jackson ran toward the melee and hit into Hayes, who was knocked to the ground.
Talib and Crabtree were also ejected and later suspended two games by the league, but both had their suspensions reduced to one game after they appealed.
Broncos safety Darian Stewart was fined $24,309 for his hit on Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper, who suffered a concussion and will sit out this Sunday’s game against the New York Giants.
Los Angeles Rams safety Blake Countess was docked $24,309 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on New Orleans tight end Coby Fleener, who has a concussion and won’t play against Carolina this weekend.
Cleveland wide receiver Bryce Treggs was fined $12,154 for taunting after a play during which teammate Isaiah Crowell lost a yard on a run against Cincinnati.
Browns teammate Jabrill Peppers said that he was fined $24,308 for his illegal hit on Bengals wide receiver Josh Malone. The rookie safety said he will appeal.
Miami cornerback Bobby McCain was docked $9,115 after he was ejected in the third quarter of the Dolphins’ loss to New England for throwing a punch at Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola.
Fined $18,231 by the league were: Kansas City’s Daniel Sorenson (roughing the passer), Indianapolis’ Antonio Morrison (horse-collar tackle) and Arizona’s Chandler Jones (roughing the passer).
— Domata Peko’s 123-game starting streak, the longest by a defensive lineman in the NFL, will come to an end this weekend. The Denver Broncos’ tenacious nose tackle has been ruled out because of a sprained ligament in his left knee. Peko was injured in the Broncos’ 21-14 loss at Oakland last week
— Atlanta cornerback Desmond Trufant is sidelined with a concussion and won’t play Sunday when the Falcons host Minnesota. The Falcons got some good news Friday when cornerback Brian Poole was upgraded as a limited participant after missing the first two days of practice this week with a back injury. Receiver Julio Jones (ankle), kicker Matt Bryant (back) and guard Andy Levitre (knee) were limited participants, but are expected play against the Vikings.
— The New Orleans Saints have listed top cornerback Marshon Lattimore (ankle) as questionable for Sunday’s game against Carolina, which will decide the leader of the NFC South Division. Fellow cornerback P.J. Williams (shoulder) and left tackle Terron Armstead (thigh, shoulder) also are questionable.
— Miami Dolphins reserve quarterback Matt Moore has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against Denver because of a foot injury. Starter Jay Cutler’s backup will be David Fales, who has thrown five passes in his NFL career. Other Dolphins ruled out: running back Damien Williams (shoulder), guard Jermon Bushrod (foot) and reserve safety Maurice Smith (abdomen).
— The Jacksonville Jaguars will be without linebacker Telvin Smith (concussion protocol) against Indianapolis on Sunday, the first time the team has missed a defensive starter all season. Also ruled out: receiver Allen Hurns (ankle) and offensive tackle Josh Wells (concussion)
— Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews returned to practice Friday in a limited capacity and likely is a game-time decision Sunday against the Houston Texans. Running back DeMarco Murray, who missed Thursday’s practice because of illness, practiced Friday.
The Carolina Panthers will be without starting defensive end Charles Johnson for Sunday’s pivotal NFC showdown with the New Orleans Saints. Johnson, an 11-year veteran, has been suspended without pay for the team’s next four games for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances. The NFL announced the suspension Friday. Johnson’s suspension begins immediately. He’s eligible to return to the Panthers’ active roster on Dec. 25. … The Arizona Cardinals signed defensive lineman Corey Peters to a three-year contract extension that could keep him with the team through 2020. The 29-year-old Peters has started nine games this season, amassing 25 tackles, one sack and one pass defensed. He has 227 tackles, 12 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery over his eight-year career.