Aaron Rodgers has been cleared to return from a left collarbone injury, just in time to start Sunday for the Green Bay Packers against the Chicago Bears in a game to decide the NFC North title.
With no advance warning and little fanfare, the franchise quarterback received the long- awaited good news at the same time as the rest of his teammates Thursday.
“This is a fun day for me, but I think the focus needs to be on this game and the opportunity we have to win the division,” Rodgers said.
The spotlight for now is squarely on the return of one of the NFL’s most irreplaceable players.
Green Bay (7-7-1) is 2-5-1 since Rodgers went down during the first series of a 27-20 loss Nov. 4 to Chicago. The Packers have managed to hang on, with a shot to win a third straight division title with a victory Sunday at Soldier Field.
Win and Green Bay returns to Lambeau Field the following weekend to host a wild-card team in the first round of the playoffs.
Bryant says he’ll play
Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant said he will play in a winner-take-all finale against Philadelphia despite missing practice because of a persistent back problem.
The Cowboys (8-7) play the Eagles (9-6) on Sunday night in their third straight season-ender with the NFC East title and a playoff berth on the line.
Asomugha to retire
Former All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha will retire today after 11 years in the NFL, according to the Oakland Raiders.
Asomugha had his greatest success in the NFL with the Raiders after being drafted in the first round out of California in 2003. He earned three Pro Bowl selections in eight seasons in Oakland and was a first-team All-Pro in 2008 and 2010.
Asomugha struggled after joining Philadelphia as a high-profile free agent in 2011. After two seasons with the Eagles, Asomugha played three games with San Francisco this season before being cut last month.
Bills rookie fined
Buffalo Bills rookie receiver Robert Woods has even more reason to regret losing his cool and getting ejected against the Miami Dolphins last weekend.
Woods said Thursday he has been fined $15,000 by the NFL for punching Dolphins safety Reshad Jones.
The altercation occurred in the third quarter of Buffalo’s 19-0 win Sunday. Woods and Jones became tangled up during a running play and eventually wrestled each other to the ground.
Woods was unhappy with how Jones threw him into a pile of players following the whistle. Jones was on one knee and had his back turned when Woods caught him with an uppercut across the facemask.
On the injury front, coach Doug Marrone has yet to determine whether rookie quarterback EJ Manuel will be ready to start Sunday, when Buffalo (6-9) closes its season at New England (11-4). Manuel was limited in practice for a second consecutive day and looked “improved,” Marrone said.