GREEN BAY – While the grassy knoll conspiracy theorists wonder if there’s some sinister reason why the Green Bay Packers aren’t putting veteran safety Charles Woodson back out on the field, the fact of the matter is this: The 36-year-old potential future Pro Football Hall of Famer is deferring to team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie and giving his collarbone as much time to heal as possible.
That’s why Woodson has accepted the doctor’s recommendation for him to sit out Sunday’s regular-season finale at Minnesota, marking the ninth straight game Woodson will have missed after the Oct. 21 injury.
But when the playoffs begin – either Jan. 4-5, if the Packers fail to secure the NFC’s No. 2 seed and a first-round playoff bye with a victory over the Vikings Sunday, or Jan. 12-13 if they do – Woodson won’t be staying on the sideline, coach Mike McCarthy insisted.
“(In) a lot of our decisions, you have risk assessment,” McCarthy said Thursday after refusing to divulge details of Woodson’s recovery and what the specific holdup is in him being cleared for duty. “I think that the time I have spent around Charles Woodson, his risk assessment will go out the window when it comes time to play in a playoff game.
“We’re trying to be smart with this. Obviously he’s part of the decision, but it’s the doctor’s call right now.”
Asked why McKenzie is holding Woodson back, McCarthy replied, “The specifics of an injury, like I’ve always done with players, if they want to share that with you, that’s obviously their business. There’s a process that I go through every Monday. And they’ve been doing it for weeks now. Dr. McKenzie doesn’t feel it is in his best interest to play this week.”
Last Friday, Woodson said he hasn’t always agreed with McKenzie and McCarthy’s recommendations, but if waiting allows him to make it through an entire playoff run – right through Super Bowl XLVII – without reinjuring his collarbone, he will be grateful.
“This team has throughout this season found ways to win and we’ve found ourselves in the playoffs. I’m just thankful that when I do come back, I’ll have a chance to play in the playoffs,” said Woodson, who in a brief interview in the locker room Wednesday insisted to the Green Bay Press-Gazette that he has not had any type of setback with the injury.
“If it so happens that (waiting) was able to give me a couple more weeks to heal and get completely healed so I can go out there play through a full playoffs, then yeah, I’ll thank him. No problem there.”
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