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Cowboys expect Aaron Rodgers to be fine despite calf problem

The Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers is taken

The Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers is taken off the field after injuring his leg during the first half of an NFL game against the Detroit Lions Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis. Photo Credit: AP / Tom Lynn

Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli acknowledges that it'll be a boon to his team if a calf issue hampers Aaron Rodgers' mobility in Sunday's NFC divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field.

"In the pocket, he's tough," Marinelli told reporters. "When he gets out of the pocket? He is off the charts. He's got a great feel, his vision is downfield, I've been around where you've got guys zeroing in on him and, man, he's tough."

Marinelli added, however, that the Cowboys are not counting on any diminished abilities from the opposing quarterback. They think the All-Pro will be All Right come Sunday.

Even though Rodgers was on the practice field Thursday for the first time since the regular-season finale, even though Rodgers aggravated a left calf strain in that Dec. 28 game against the Lions, and even though ESPN is reporting that Rodgers has a "slight tear" in the calf in addition to the strain, Marinelli is not expecting any limitations.

"That," he said, "would be a major mistake."

Even before he stepped onto the practice field, Rodgers was convinced he will play in the game. "I'm going on Sunday," he said earlier in the week. "Just a matter of how."

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers took 50 to 60 percent of the team snaps in practice Thursday. Rodgers missed two workouts last week while the Packers were on a bye and then sat Wednesday's practice.

McCarthy said that percentage is within the range of where the team wants Rodgers to be; he officially was listed as limited.

"Aaron practiced in the team periods; he looked good," McCarthy said. "He went down and did everything we asked him to do today. It's always a better practice when he's out there."

It's usually a better game, too. Especially at Lambeau.

Rodgers set an NFL single-season record with a 133.2 passer rating at home and had 25 touchdown passes and no interceptions in the eight games at Green Bay's legendary stadium. He has thrown 477 consecutive pass attempts without an interception at Lambeau (including the postseason) and has 38 touchdown passes during that period.

Marinelli knows how well Rodgers can play. When he was the Bears' defensive coordinator working against Green Bay, the Packers were 6-1 and Rodgers posted a rating of 101.5.

If Rodgers is somewhat limited by the injury -- and it certainly appeared he was the last time he was in a game, when he returned to lead the Packers to the division title on Dec. 28 -- it likely will limit his running abilities. Not only does Rodgers move in the pocket and throw on the run, but he has 1,831 career rushing yards and 20 career rushing touchdowns.

Rodgers wasn't the only quarterback to return to practice Thursday. Tony Romo did, too, with far less fanfare. Romo has been skipping Wednesday practices all season to rest his injured back, so that made his absence almost routine. Rodgers' was not, but even Romo said he thinks his Packers counterpart will be ready and that missing those practice reps will not affect him.

"He'll be fine," Romo said. "I think when you've played in the league long enough, it's not going to disrupt his timing in any way."

He'll be fine for the game, and I expect him to be full-go for the game."

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