NFL NOTEBOOK: Packers' QB set for return
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will return to start Sunday’s game for the NFC North title against the Chicago Bears.
Coach Mike McCarthy announced Thursday that Rodgers will be back after missing seven games because of a left collarbone injury.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.
But the Packers have managed to hang on with a shot to win a third straight division title with a victory over the Bears at Soldier Field.
“We’re preparing for the Chicago Bears with Aaron Rodgers as our starting quarterback,” McCarthy said.
The Packers have been riddled by injuries. Linebacker Clay Matthews is out again with a right thumb injury. Running back Eddie Lacy is hobbled by an ankle injury, though McCarthy is optimistic about the rookie’s chances to go Sunday.
“I feel Eddie is in good place,” McCarthy said. “I expect him to play.”
Green Bay has also gone the majority of the season without tight end Jermichael Finley (neck) and playmaking receiver Randall Cobb (leg).
Green Bay won two straight with backup Matt Flynn before falling 38-31 last week to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
COWBOYS: Receiver Dez Bryant said he will play in a winner-take-all finale against Philadelphia despite missing practice because of a persistent back problem.
Bryant was downgraded on the practice report Thursday, a day after being a limited participant when the back flared up. He said he aggravated his back in the 24-23 win over Washington.
The Cowboys (8-7) play the Eagles (9-6) on Sunday night in their third straight season-ender with the NFC East title and a playoff berth on the line.
• 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 retired after the 2011 season, his 15th in the league, and has been coaching football at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Wash., this season.
ELSEWHERE: Former All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha will retire after 11 years in the NFL.
The Raiders said Asomugha will announce his retirement officially at a news conference at team headquarters today.
Asomugha had his greatest success in the NFL with the Raiders after being drafted in the first round out of California in 2003. He earned three Pro Bowl selections in eight seasons in Oakland and was a first-team All-Pro in 2008 and 2010.
Asomugha struggled after joining Philadelphia as a high-profile free agent in 2011. After two seasons with the Eagles, Asomugha played three games with San Francisco before being cut last month.
• ACL injuries are down, the NFL has told its Health and Safety Advisory Committee.
In a memo to the committee sent earlier this week and obtained by The Associated Press, the league said research showed there were 30 ACL injuries in games through the preseason and first 13 weeks of the schedule. There were 39 such injuries in 2012, 35 in 2011, 37 in 2010, and 31 in 2009.
Anterior cruciate ligament problems are the most severe knee injuries.
There was an increase in medial collateral ligament injuries (MCL), from 74 in 2012 to 89 in games this season through 13 weeks.