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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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Dallas Cowboys executive Stephen Jones confirmed Monday that Ezekiel Elliott will be training outside the United States during his suspension.

Jones, who made his comments in an interview with 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, didn’t disclose the exact location where the running back is training.

NFL Network first reported the news of Elliott’s plans.
“Actually, I give Zeke credit. This was his idea. He’s wanting to really go to work and not have distractions while he’s not able to play the game. He felt the best way to do that was to get away from this environment … and really work to get himself in the best possible shape,” Jones said.

Jones said Elliott went over his plans with the team’s coaches and strength and conditioning staff, who were comfortable with what they heard.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones, Stephen’s father, said Sunday night that he also believed Elliott had a good plan for his time away from the team.

Stephen Jones noted that the Cowboys aren’t permitted to have contact with Elliott during his suspension but was hopeful that the running back will be able to stay in playing shape.

“Certainly it’s not easy when you’re not in a competitive environment, but it sounds like he has a good plan and hopefully one he’ll pull off,” he said.

Elliott, 22, was suspended by commissioner Roger Goodell in August after the league concluded following a yearlong investigation that he had several physical confrontations in the summer of 2016 in Ohio with his girlfriend at the time. The NFL players’ union sued on Elliott’s behalf.

He was able to play in the first eight games through a number of legal decisions, but he lost a temporary administrative stay that kept him on the field in last week’s victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Cowboys missed Elliott in Sunday’s 27-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, as the team rushed for 107 yards on 21 carries. Alfred Morris led the Cowboys with 53 yards on 11 carries but had just 8 yards on six first-half carries. Elliott had 783 rushing yards in the first eight games of the season, with four straight games of more than 90 yards on the ground.

He will miss at least the next four games, pending a Dec. 1 hearing, and he is likely to miss the next six.

“He’ll be a better person from this and a better player for us when this is all said and done. It will be a life lesson for him and hopefully he’ll come back and take the next chapter,” Stephen Jones said.