IRVING, Texas– The fervor surrounding Aaron Rodgers' left calf should feel familiar to anyone who watches the Dallas Cowboys.
It feels like ages ago, but it's only been about two months since every eye in the NFL world was fixated on Tony Romo and the broken bones in his back. The endless speculation and second-guessing that followed Romo from the injury, on Oct. 27, to his next start, on Nov. 9, was at a fever pitch.
It's a similar situation for Rodgers' calf, which he aggravated in the season finale against Detroit. The problem isn't going to hold him out Sunday against the Cowboys, but it could hinder him significantly. The Packers didn't allow him to practice on Wednesday, and he was limited in Thursday's session.
"I'm going on Sunday," Rodgers told reporters on Wednesday. "It's just a matter of how."
Despite all of this, Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli expects Rodgers to play one way by game time on Sunday – 100 percent.
"I'm counting on it," Marinelli said Thursday afternoon. "I'm not going in saying no. That'd be a major mistake."
Rodgers is universally considered one of the best pocket passers in the NFL today, and for good reason. His absurd yardage and completion statistics back that up, as does a touchdown-to-interception ratio that's hard to believe.
His mobility and ability to make plays outside the pocket are one of his defining characteristics. Not unlike Romo, Rodgers has a penchant for making plays on the run. His 1,831 career rushing yards and 20 career rushing touchdowns speak to that ability, as well.
"I mean he's terrific in the pocket, but when he gets out of the pocket -- and we're preparing for that, believe me -- he is off the charts," Marinelli said. "He's got a great feel, his vision is down field, I've been around where you've got guys zeroing in on him and, man, he's tough."
The bye week for the Packers, who hold the No. 2 seed in the NFC, is bound to help Rodgers' mobility. Whether he's got enough time to bounce all the way back is another issue. Reports on Thursday morning indicated that his calf was partially torn in addition to being strained.
I'm improving. Just trying to get it to a better place every day," Rodgers said Wednesday. "I spend a lot of time with the trainers, a lot of rehab. Just trying to continue to improve every day and see about practice reps every morning."
If that doesn't sound familiar, it should. Nothing draws interest like an injury to a Pro Bowl quarterback, as Romo can no doubt attest to.
Romo also has plenty of experience with limited practice weeks, as he's routinely rested during Wednesday practices to focus on strengthening his back. From one veteran quarterback to another, he wasn't concerned about Rodgers' readiness going forward.
"He'll be fine. I think when you've played in the league long enough, it's not going to disrupt his timing in any way," Romo said. "He'll be fine for the game, and I expect him to be full-go for the game."