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Rodgers’ bro­ken col­lar­bone will re­quire surgery

Green Bay — If Aaron Rodgers had been rolling left when Min­nesota Vik­ings line­backer An­thony Barr drove him into the ground Sun­day, the Green Bay Pack­ers’ two-time MVP quar­ter­back would have real hope of re­turn­ing this sea­son.

Rodgers al­ready has over­come a frac­tured left col­lar­bone. It cost him seven games in 2013 be­fore he re­turned for the reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale and then the play­offs. This time, Rodgers broke his col­lar­bone three weeks ear­lier in the sea­son. But he wasn’t rolling left. Rolling right, Rodgers had his throw­ing shoul­der slammed into the field. Barr fin­ished the play fall­ing on top of Rodgers, the force of his weight driv­ing the Pack­ers quar­ter­back’s right shoul­der into the turf.

Luga Podesta, a re­gen­er­a­tive or­tho­pe­dic spe­cial­ist at Blue­tail Med­i­cal Group in Naples, Fla., watched video of Barr’s hit and Rodgers’ sub­se­quent crash. It’s a play Podesta said he has seen many times.

Podesta is a for­mer train­ing camp med­i­cal con­sul­tant with the Dal­las Cow­boys and New Or­leans Saints. He knows what it looks like when a quar­ter­back breaks his col­lar­bone.

This, he said, was a clas­sic ex­am­ple.

“He fell right on the tip of his shoul­der,” Podesta said, “which is usu­ally how it breaks. Es­pe­cially if some­one lands on it.”

A frac­ture to Rodgers’ right col­lar­bone is why the Pack­ers are star­ing at the like­li­hood of play­ing the rest of their sea­son with­out him.

Coach Mike McCarthy said Mon­day that Rodgers will un­dergo surgery in the near fu­ture to re­pair his bro­ken col­lar­bone. No date has been set for surgery, McCarthy said, but “po­ten­tially the sea­son could be over” for his quar­ter­back.

This kind of frac­ture, ac­cord­ing to mul­ti­ple or­tho­pe­dic spe­cial­ists, can re­quire a month-longer re­cov­ery when it hap­pens in a quar­ter­back’s throw­ing shoul­der. Tim Gib­son, an or­tho­pe­dic sur­geon at Me­mo­ri­alCare Orange Coast Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Foun­tain Val­ley, Calif., said Rodgers’ next mean­ing­ful pass likely will come in the 2018 sea­son.

“Be­cause it’s his throw­ing arm,” Gib­son said. “That does af­fect it more than if it was his non-throw­ing arm. If it’s near the end of the bone or it’s shat­tered, then I think that would be prob­a­bly with­out a question (out for the sea­son).

“If it’s in the mid­dle and it’s clean, even though it might be healed in eight weeks, his arm strength and ac­cu­racy and all those things — he can’t really prac­tice in the mean­time. Whereas, when he broke his other one, he could still throw the ball within a short pe­riod of time af­ter the in­jury.

“This one, there’s not go­ing to be any throw­ing for some time. So it could be that it’s a worse in­jury, or it just could be that on that arm the re­turn to play is go­ing to be de­layed be­cause of other as­pects.”

In the best-case sce­nario, Gib­son said, Rodgers could re- turn to the field as early as 10 weeks af­ter in­jury. That would put Rodgers on track to play late in the sea­son. It’s also likely Rodgers will re­quire more time.

Podesta said al­most 80% of frac­tures hap­pen mid-clav­i­cle, be­tween the ster­num and AC joint. That would be good news for Rodgers. Frac­tures near the end of the col­lar­bone, Podesta said, can take longer to heal.

With the in­jury in his right shoul­der, the Pack­ers are at the mercy of how long it takes for Rodgers’ bone to heal. Each week Rodgers’ throw­ing arm is im­mo­bile, it will be­come weaker. If it’s a clean break, Podesta said, Rodgers’ right arm could be in a sling three to four weeks.

Around six weeks, Podesta said, Rodgers could start strength­en­ing his shoul­der. It could take an­other three to five weeks for Rodgers to be­gin throw­ing.

“He doesn’t get back for prob­a­bly about three months,” Podesta said, “if not more.”

Three months would put Rodgers on course to re­turn in the mid­dle of Jan­uary. By then, the Pack­ers’ sea­son al­most cer­tainly would be over.

Gib­son said it has be­come the trend for bro­ken col­lar­bones to be sur­gi­cally re­paired, al­though it doesn’t al­ways hap­pen. Rodgers did not re­quire surgery in 2013.

Surgery does not re­quire sig­nif­i­cantly more re­cov­ery time, Gib­son said. Rather, Gib­son sug­gested the de­ci­sion for Rodgers to un­dergo surgery likely de­pended on the frac­ture pat­tern and bone dis­place­ment.

If the pieces of Rodgers’ frac­tured col­lar­bone were touch­ing, they would have been more likely to avoid surgery. With a clean break, a sur­geon can in­sert a metal plate with screws to fuse the bones to­gether. De­pend­ing on the frac­ture, a sur­geon can also in­sert a rod into the clav­i­cle.

“If it’s not off by much it can heal with­out surgery in eight to 12 weeks,” Gib­son said. “So there are frac­tures that do not have surg­eries. Not do­ing surgery does have po­ten­tial ad­van­tages, be­ing you don’t have a plate in there that has to have a sec­ond op­er­a­tion.”

At worst, Podesta said, a frac­tured col­lar­bone should al­low Rodgers to re­turn next sea­son.

He said range of mo­tion in Rodgers’ shoul­der won’t be an is­sue long term. Rodgers likely will un­dergo an ag­gres­sive strength-build­ing pro­gram this off-sea­son, Podesta ex­pects.

“The best way to ac­tu­ally strengthen it is by mov­ing it and him ac­tu­ally throw­ing,” Podesta said.


Pack­ers quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers yells at Vik­ings line­backer An­thony Barr af­ter Barr tack­led him and drove his shoul­der into the ground. Rodgers broke his col­lar­bone and needs surgery.

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