The Green Bay Packers remain optimistic they will have franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers back on the field Sunday when they host the Seattle Seahawks. But they will not know for sure about the status of Rodgers’ return from the COVID-19 reserve list until sometime Saturday.
Saturday will mark the end of the required 10-day quarantine window for unvaccinated players. So Rodgers hasn’t joined his teammates on the field. But he has attended every team meeting virtually, according to Packers coach Matt LaFleur and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, and LaFleur said he is confident in the 14-year veteran’s readiness despite a lack of practice time.
“It’s going to be great,” LaFleur told reporters on Thursday. He added, “provided he checks out well.”
So, what exactly does “checks out well” consist of?
The COVID-19 protocol agreed upon by the NFL and NFL Players Association allows unvaccinated players to return from their 10-day quarantine as long as they are asymptomatic.
Those players do not have to test negative for COVID before returning because the virus’ antibodies can remain in a person’s system long after they are no longer contagious. Medical professionals describe this as “viral shedding.”
Rodgers must gain clearance from the team doctors. Cardiac screening is no longer required by the NFL. However, the Packers’ doctors will require Rodgers to go through a three-day physical ramp-up period, which is allowed to start before the end of the 10-day quarantine window.
If the team doctors are satisfied with Rodgers’ physical condition when they see him, he will receive the green light to play on Sunday against Seattle.
It will be interesting to see when the Packers reveal Rodgers’ status. LaFleur could offer an update during his post-walkthrough media availability around midday Saturday. However, for competitive reasons, the Packers could try to keep his availability under wraps as long as they can, as some teams do with injury updates, dragging out the suspense a bit longer into the day on Saturday.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Aaron Rodgers’ status: What needs to happen for Packers QB to play?