NFL notes: Packers' Aaron Rodgers to start vs. Bears
Aaron Rodgers has been cleared to return from a left collarbone injury, just in time to start Sunday for the 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.
Soon enough. But 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.
"I'll start with the announcement that we're preparing for the Chicago Bears with Aaron Rodgers as our starting quarterback," coach Mike McCarthy told reporters Thursday after practice.
Win and Green Bay returns to Lambeau Field the following weekend to host a wild-card team in the first round of the playoffs.
"We're in it. You know we have a chance against our rivals, and what a better way than to go down there and get some redemption and host a home playoff game," Rodgers said.
Kitna to donate pay to high school
Jon Kitna will earn $53,000 to serve as the Cowboys' third-string quarterback for one week and he plans to donate that money to the Seattle-area high school where he's now a coach. Kitna told The Dallas Morning News of his plans Wednesday.
Kitna retired after the 2011 season, his 15th in the league, and was coaching football at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Wash., this season when he heard about Tony Romo's back injury. Kitna sent a text message Tuesday morning to Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, and the two would talk by phone for 30 minutes, he said.
He'll suit up Sunday as the backup to Kyle Orton if Romo can't play against the Philadelphia Eagles, in a game that will decide a playoff berth.
Around the league
Bills • Rookie receiver Robert Woods told The Associated Press he has been fined $15,000 by the NFL for punching Dolphins safety Reshad Jones last weekend.
Rams • Rookie receiver Tavon Austin, who has missed the last two games with a left ankle injury,, missed another day of practice, lessening the odds he will be ready for St. Louis' season finale at Seattle.
Week 17 schedule
Houston at Tennessee, 11 a.m.
Detroit at Minnesota, 11 a.m.
Carolina at Atlanta, 11 a.m.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh, 11 a.m.
Washington at N.Y. Giants, 11 a.m.
Baltimore at Cincinnati, 11 a.m., Ch. 2
Jacksonville at Indianapolis, 11 a.m.
N.Y. Jets at Miami, 11 a.m.
Denver at Oakland, 2:25 p.m., Ch. 2
Kansas City at San Diego, 2:25 p.m.
St. Louis at Seattle, 2:25 p.m.
San Francisco at Arizona, 2:25 p.m.
Green Bay at Chicago, 2:25 p.m.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans, 2:25 p.m.
Buffalo at New England, 2:25 p.m.
Philadelphia at Dallas, 6:30 p.m., Ch. 5