Here’s the latest on the NFL’s most prominent injuries.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers (collarbone): Green Bay has posted an 0-4-1 record in five games without Rodgers, though that slump has not been enough to knock them totally out of the NFC North race. The information on Rodgers' possible return, however, has been conflicting at best.
Rodgers told ESPN.com prior to the Packers' Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit that he hoped to play in Week 14 vs. Atlanta. But both the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and ESPN's Chris Mortensen revealed Sunday that there's a chance Rodgers may be shut down for the season to prevent further injury.
"Even though Rodgers has reinforced his determination to return, sources say doctors prefer a conservative approach and other Packers decision-makers are conflicted," Mortensen wrote, "especially without a lot of confidence the team is in position to make a Super Bowl run."
Packers coach Mike McCarthy lamented Rodgers' absence following that setback in the Motor City:
“You don’t want to put everything on one man, but I think it’s obvious how important Aaron Rodgers is to us."
After hosting Atlanta this coming Sunday, the Packers finish the season with games at Dallas, vs. Pittsburgh and at Chicago.
Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears (ankle): The mystery continues to linger regarding Cutler's playing status. Bears head coach Marc Trestman said last Monday that he's "totally confident [Cutler will] play again this season," though he again deemed Cutler's ankle injury a "week-to-week" proposition.
Cutler also previously said that he was targeting the Bears' Week 14 Monday nighter with the Cowboys as a possible return date. "I'd be pretty disappointed if I wasn't able to play for that game," he said a week ago, according to the Chicago Tribune's Rich Campbell.
Cutler could have as few as four games left in his Bears career. His current contract is set to expire at the end of the 2013 season, and there has been no real movement forward yet on a new deal between the team and the 30-year-old QB. The Tribune's Brad Biggs speculated that Josh McCown's performance in Cutler's absence -- the backup has better numbers almost across the board -- could convince Chicago to move on from its starter of the past five seasons.
A return to the lineup coinciding with a late playoff push could help Cutler state his case.
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Joe Staley, OT, 49ers (knee): San Francisco's stalwart tackle lasted less than one possession Sunday before leaving with a knee injury. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reported that Staley had suffered a sprained MCL, but that "the outlook could have been a lot worse."
"I don’t want to make any rush judgment or repeat anything until the tests have been run," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said of the Staley injury.
Branden Albert, OT, Kansas City Chiefs (knee): Albert had to be carted off after hurting his knee Sunday, but like Staley he avoided serious injury. Andy Reid said Monday that Albert had suffered a hyperextended knee and was day-to-day -- about the best prognosis possible considering how Albert's Week 13 ended.
Sean Lee, LB, Dallas Cowboys (hamstring): As they brace for a late-season playoff push, the Cowboys appear to be on the verge of getting one of their top defenders back on the field. Lee, who has had to sit out Dallas' past two games after injuring his hamstring, told ESPN's Calvin Watkins that he has his sights set on a Week 14 clash with Chicago.
"I think I have a great shot for returning next week," Lee said. "I have to put the work in and go through practice and go through the progressions, but I feel great but I should have a good shot."
Santonio Holmes, WR, New York Jets (hamstring): On a day in which its offense was so stagnant that Rex Ryan switched from Geno Smith to Matt Simms at QB, New York could have used a big performance from Holmes. Instead, the wide receiver succumbed to an ailing hamstring after only three snaps.
"We didn't want to overload him," Ryan said. "We were trying to be careful out there. I don't know how many plays he played, but I know it wasn't that many."
Charles Johnson, DE, Panthers (knee): If Johnson's Twitter feed is to be believed, the Carolina defensive end will be back in the lineup for a Week 14 clash with New Orleans after sitting out two straight games.
Johnson tweeted Sunday: "Great game! Who's ready for the Sunday night game in the NO #iwillbetheresuitedandbooted #biggame #PantherNation"