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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers’ fate — and perhaps the Packers’ playoff chances — are in the hands of the doctors.

That’s the only update coach Mike McCarthy had on his quarterback after Rodgers underwent tests Monday morning to see whether his broken right collarbone has healed to the point that he could return Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, the first game for which Rodgers is eligible to be activated off injured reserve.

Packers physician Dr. Pat McKenzie is expected to make a determination after consulting with several specialists.

“It is now in the evaluation stage,” McCarthy said late Monday afternoon. “Dr. McKenzie is reviewing it. There’s a number of medical opinions that will be involved in a decision, so at this time, I do not have a clean decision for you or an update. That’s where it stands.”
McCarthy joked that if he didn’t have a decision by Tuesday, “they’re going to be putting Pat McKenzie on IR.”

Aaron Rodgers is eligible to be activated off injured reserve for Sunday's game against the Panthers, but whether he will be back on the field depends on the health of his collarbone.

Aaron Rodgers is eligible to be activated off injured reserve for Sunday’s game against the Panthers, but whether he will be back on the field depends on the health of his collarbone.

It’s unclear why the Packers didn’t put Rodgers through tests late last week.

To this point, everything has gone according to plan in Rodgers’ recovery from surgery on Oct. 19, when he had screws and plates implanted to stabilize his right clavicle. Rodgers said he hoped to come back this season but only if the tests showed the bone had healed.

He returned to practice on Dec. 2, the day he turned 34. Even before that, however, he was throwing. The first time he did so in public was before the Nov. 26 game at Pittsburgh, where he was seen throwing passes 50-plus yards in the air. Packers linebacker Clay Matthews even joked that Rodgers looked so good during the rehab process that the Packers shouldn’t have put him on injured reserve.

“It’s in the evaluation process,” McCarthy said. “I don’t have an answer for you. I’d like to know as soon as possible. Frankly, it’s best for Aaron to know as soon as possible. He’s the one that has to get ready, and obviously, in his mind he’s ready to go if you watch him practice and the conversations with him. But this is a medical decision, and Dr. McKenzie is obviously in touch with a number of different medical experts, and they’re evaluating the information.”
With or without Rodgers, McCarthy and his offensive staff are well into their game plan for the Panthers. They typically start on the next opponent late in the previous week, and this game was no different.

“We do preliminary game plans at the end of each week,” McCarthy said. “So, for instance, the offensive staff has a preliminary game plan for Carolina that is worked on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and then we evaluate their game that they played yesterday. So we had a chance to watch that against Minnesota. Obviously, we were here early this morning correcting our game from Cleveland. So the process is in full motion, and so, we’ll just keep going down the road.”

Brett Hundley won three of his seven starts in place of Rodgers, including consecutive overtime wins the past two weeks to get the Packers to 7-6 and keep them alive in the playoff race.

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The NFL will look into why Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton on Thursday declined to speak to media, league spokesman Brian McCarthy told ESPN.

Team spokesperson Steven Drummond said the 2015 NFL MVP did not give a reason. Coach Ron Rivera also was unaware of why his quarterback did not participate.

“I just found out,” Rivera said. “I thought he had a press conference today, but apparently not.”

Star players are required to be available to the media during the week while in season.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton declined to speak to media on Thursday.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton declined to speak to media on Thursday.

Newton, until Thursday, had participated in every required media opportunity the past two weeks since he made light of a football question from Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue earlier this month.

Rodrigue took time off after the incident and was not at Newton’s other availabilities. She returned to the beat for the first time on Wednesday, when Newton normally holds his weekly news conference. He also did not speak that day.

Newton was at practice on Thursday and sat in front of his locker for more than 10 minutes playing loud music during the media open locker room session.

Players are subject to fines for missing media availability

Meanwhile, the Panthers could be without two of their biggest stars, middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, for Sunday’s game at Chicago.

Kuechly was at practice with a helmet and cleats, but he remains in the concussion protocol, where he was placed after taking a hit to the shoulder and neck area late in the second quarter of last Thursday’s 28-23 loss to Philadelphia.

He was listed as a non-participant in practice on the injury report, despite participating in some individual drills during the portion open to the media. He did not participate in team drills during the media portion.

The injury report said concussion protocol on Wednesday, but it was changed to concussion on Thursday. A team spokesman said the change was made to be consistent with a past injury report.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter, citing sources, reported on Sunday that the team does not believe Kuechly suffered a concussion. McCarthy said if a “player is diagnosed by medical staff with a concussion, he should be listed as concussion.”

Outside linebacker Thomas Davis said it was good to see Kuechly running around at practice.

“Just understanding this situation is not like the other situations,” Davis said of Kuechly, in the protocol for the third time in as many seasons. “Seeing him bounce back as quickly as he has — he’s in a definite good place at this time. Just excited to see him walking around and healthy.”

Kuechly still has to participate in a full practice and be cleared by an independent physician to be eligible to play. Asked whether it was unlikely the 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year would play on Sunday, Rivera said, “We’ll see.”
Kuechly missed three games in 2015 with a concussion. He was in the protocol for three games in 2016 and then held out the final three games as a precaution with Carolina out of playoff contention.

Benjamin did not practice for the second straight day, with swelling in his left knee that was surgically repaired in 2015.

“It swelled up from a shot he got the other day, so he went and saw the doctor,” Rivera said. “We’re a little bit concerned, so we’ll see.”

Rivera said if Benjamin doesn’t show signs of improvement on Friday then the team likely would make a roster move. Devin Funchess likely would step into Benjamin’s role as the “X” receiver, and rookie Curtis Samuel likely would see more time as the slot receiver.

Free safety Kurt Coleman saw his repetitions increased in practice after missing the past two games with a sprained knee. He was listed as limited on the injury report, but Rivera was encouraged by Coleman’s progress.