GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers will be without three key players on offense in Sunday’s game against Detroit.
Running back James Starks (knee/ankle), receiver/kick returner Randall Cobb (groin) and receiver Greg Jennings (knee), who has missed the last two games, won’t play in the regular-season finale.
Coach Mike McCarthy would not say Friday whether quarterback Aaron Rodgers will sit the game out.
“The most important thing with Aaron is he’s ready to play,” McCarthy said. “It’s important for the quarterbacks, we repped all three of them this week. So I’d like to see all three of them play in the game, is the initial plan as we started the week.”
Rodgers didn’t shed any light on whether he would play.
“I’m going to leave it up to Mike,” he said.
The Packers also listed right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) as doubtful. Linebacker Clay Matthews (ankle) and cornerback Charles Woodson (knee) are questionable.
McCarthy has been coy this week about his approach to Sunday’s game after the Packers (14-1) clinched the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
While the playoffs-bound Lions (10-5) can gain the No. 5 seed in the NFC bracket by winning at Green Bay for the first time since 1991, the Packers don’t have anything riding on the final score against their longtime rivals.
“It ain’t the end of the world. We’ve still got them playoffs,” Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley said.
The Packers will have a first-round bye and won’t play again until the Jan. 14-15 weekend.
McCarthy shrugged off the suggestion that a loss would hurt his team’s momentum.
“I don’t ever worry about the outcome of the game,” he said. “I’m a firm believer in trusting the process. I truly believe we’re going to win this football game. So I’m more concerned with the process leading up to this game, and I’ll be just as much concerned as the process leading up to our next competition.
“Games are won, in my opinion, throughout the week. We fully expect to win this game.”
The Packers would be counting on a combination of Matt Flynn and Graham Harrell to lead the league’s No. 1-scoring offense if Rodgers doesn’t play for only the second time in his four seasons as the starter.
Flynn, a fourth-year player, made his only pro start Dec. 19, 2010, with Rodgers out because of a concussion. Flynn played well in the prime-time game on the road against the heavily favored New England Patriots, who hung on for a 31-27 win.
“I want to see Matt Flynn play like he did in New England, but take it a step further – win the game,” McCarthy said.
Harrell is anxious to get his first regular-season action since he signed with the Packers as a free agent in 2010.
“I’d love to get in, but we’re going out to win,” Harrell said.
And Harrell wouldn’t be surprised if Flynn, not Rodgers, makes the start Sunday.
“It’ll be interesting,” Harrell said. “I don’t think you can go wrong either way. Aaron, he’s been healthy almost his whole career. He’s a smart player, and he obviously helps us win. So letting him get some action would be good for us, but if they decide to rest him, it obviously makes a ton of sense as well.”
Notes: DE Ryan Pickett and LT Chad Clifton are expected to play. Both veterans are probable for the game. Pickett missed the last two games because of a concussion. Clifton hasn’t played since suffering a hamstring injury Oct. 9 and then a back injury during his rehab work. Finley also is probable. He practiced the last two days on a limited basis after a sore knee kept him out Wednesday. . McCarthy said the team would practice Wednesday and Thursday and possibly Friday next week before an opponent is known for the divisional round of the playoffs. “We’re going to keep our players mentally and physically on the same time clock,” McCarthy said.
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