Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy says the team is still evaluating Aaron Rodgers’ status, although the Carolina Panthers are preparing as if the future Hall of Fame quarterback will be in uniform on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.
Rodgers, who has been out since breaking his collarbone in October, underwent a bone scan Monday. McCarthy said team doctors are reviewing the scan and the team hopes to have an update on his availability Tuesday.
“Obviously in his mind he’s ready to go,” McCarthy said.
Rodgers broke his right collarbone in a Week 6 loss to Minnesota and had surgery four days later. He has been practicing the past two weeks, with the thinking that Rodgers could be activated if Green Bay remained in playoff contention.
The Packers (7-6) won back-to-back overtime games for the first time in team history the past two weeks to keep their postseason hopes – and a possible Rodgers return – alive.
If Rodgers is activated for the Week 15 matchup in Charlotte, the Panthers plan to welcome him back with a big pass rush and an aggressive scheme.
“For weeks now he’s been projected to come back for our game. So let him come back. Let him play against us. We’ll be ready for him,” Panthers defensive end Wes Horton said. “This defense as a whole, we’re ready for whatever challenge is ahead of us. It starts with (defensive coordinator Steve) Wilks setting the tone.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he’s working under the assumption that Rodgers will play.
When Brett Hundley first took over for Rodgers, Rivera said the Packers weren’t doing as much with their vertical passing game. But Rivera said Hundley has taken more deep shots in recent weeks.
“I think we’ll game-plan for what they do and how they do it,” Rivera said. “And we’ll see who plays.”
Wilks has not been afraid to go after quarterbacks in his first season since taking over for Sean McDermott as the Panthers’ defensive chief. In a 31-24 victory over Minnesota on Sunday, the Panthers had six sacks on Case Keenum, who had not been sacked more than two times in a game all season.
If Rodgers plays, Horton indicated the Panthers would try to attack him in a similar fashion.
“We know we’ve got to get pressure on him,” Horton said. “Because if you let Aaron Rodgers just sit back there all day he’s gonna pick us apart.”
Wilks said Rodgers throws the best back-shoulder passes of any quarterbacks he’s seen, and also was complimentary of Rodgers’ game-management skills and running ability.
“He’s pretty elusive with his feet as well. I don’t know how much he’s going to try to run, coming off surgery,” Wilks said. “He has the complete package. If he plays we’re going to have our hands full.”