The biggest injury news of Week 9 waited for the grand stage of "Monday Night Football." In the first series of the game, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down hard on his left shoulder on a sack by Chicago Bears defensive end Shea McClellin. Rodgers was clearly uncomfortable and slow to get up. He did get to his feet and off the field on his own power, wincing as he trotted off, but he would not return to the game.
Packers team physician Pat McKenzie could be seen examining Rodgers on the sideline, specifically the quarterback’s left clavicle (collarbone), presumably evaluating the area for tenderness and any deformity. The Packers would later qualify it as a “left shoulder injury,” and coach Mike McCarthy told reporters after the game there would be further testing for Rodgers on Tuesday.
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that initial tests showed a fracture in the collarbone, something Rodgers later confirmed. The plan at this time is for Rodgers to rest and allow the bone to heal; no surgery is anticipated.
The plan suggests that Rodgers suffered a non-displaced fracture, meaning the bony ends remained in alignment. Other than the possible use of a bone stimulator to help facilitate the healing, there is little to do in terms of treatment at the injury site. He can maintain his conditioning through lower-extremity workouts, as long as they are not jarring so as not to threaten the healing of the bone (think bike, not run). Gradually, Rodgers will be allowed to increase his range of motion and basic strengthening of his arm. One of the benefits of this injury being to Rodgers’ non-throwing shoulder is that he does not have to regain an overhead motion, nor will he lose valuable arm (throwing) strength with the down time.
While Rodgers did not offer a timetable for his return, Schefter cited a league source as saying Rodgers could miss three weeks. Based on this preliminary information, the soonest he would return would be for the Packers’ Thanksgiving game. It is possible that there could be adequate healing -- especially given that the injury is to his non-throwing shoulder -- to allow him to return at that time, but nothing is guaranteed. Even as bone shows evidence of repair on imaging, it continues to remodel itself and further strengthen with time. The biggest concern for the Packers in determining Rodgers’ readiness to return is the risk of re-injury, should he take another hard fall on that shoulder too soon.