GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers' coach Mike McCarthy says he won't know until Saturday whether quarterback Aaron Rodgers can start at New England on Sunday night.
He suffered a concussion last Sunday at Detroit, his second of the year. And Doctor John Gray, who examined Rodgers, said it would be out of the question for Rodgers to return to practice at least through tomorrow. And his chances for Friday would be quote, "slim to none." In addition to missing practice, Rodgers is not allowed to be at team meetings or study film. As a result, there's a chance he might not be familiar enough with the game plan to start against the Patriots - even if he's physically cleared. Matt Flynn is replacing Rodgers at practice this week, and he'll start against the Patriots if Rodgers can't. Also, McCarthy says he won't decide until Saturday whether to call up rookie quarterback Graham Harrell from the Packers' practice squad.
The Patriots added a defensive lineman today in advance of their Sunday night contest against the Packers in Foxboro. The Pats signed Louis Leonard, who played in two games for the Carolina Panthers in September before he was cut. Leonard has played on-and-off since 2007 in the NFL. He'll add depth to a New England defensive line that's been hurt by the injury bug. Mike Wright, the Patriots' sack leader, has missed three games with a concussion. And Myron Pryor has missed five games with an injured back. Also today, the Patriots placed corner Jonathan Wilhite on injured reserve. He's out for the season after missing four games with a hip injury. Wilhite, a third-year pro, made only one start for the Pats - their season opener.
The Packers have only scored 13 points in the first quarter of their last seven games. They've scored no points on their opening drives in those contests. And unless that changes, the Packers could dig themselves a huge hole on Sunday night at New England. The Patriots scored 17 points in the opening quarter two weeks ago against the New York Jets. And last week in the snow at Chicago, the Patriots still managed a Tom Brady passing touchdown in the opening quarter of a 36-7 rout of the Bears. Green Bay has shined in the second half to recover from slow starts against San Francisco and at Minnesota last month. But offensive coordinator Joe Philbin still says it's frustrating - and the problems hit a climax in last Sunday's 7-3 loss at Detroit. Receivers' coach Jimmy Robinson says a team always likes a fast start. He says it puts the other team in a hole - and it could steer from its game plan, which helps the defense. The Packers started practicing this morning for Sunday night's game at Foxboro. Green Bay is 8-and-5. The Patriots are 11-and-2 - and if the New York Jets lose on Sunday, a New England victory would give the Pats the AFC East title.