|Packers S Charles Woodson will miss his ninth game of the season Sunday vs. the Vikings. (US Presswire)|
Woodson will not play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, McCarthy announced, “clearly based on the doctor's recommendation.”
Woodson broke his collarbone in an Oct. 21 win over the St. Louis Rams and has missed the past eight games. He's wanted to play the past ctwo games and held out hope he'd be cleared for the finale, but McCarthy was quick to rule the veteran out on the first day injury reports must be made available.
The coach said Wednesday that the Vikings game had been the target to get Woodson some live game snaps before the playoffs. It now appears, if Woodson plays again this year, his return will take place in a high-stakes postseason game.
McCarthy has maintained over the past couple of weeks that the 36-year-old defensive back is “very close” and would play as soon as he's “ready” -- in other words, when the doctors give him the OK.
“I know he's disappointed,” McCarthy said, adding that the team had hoped to have him back this week given he's been practicing for almost a month.
According to the Green Bay Press Gazette, Woodson said he has not suffered a setback. “There's nothing going on, just holding out,” Woodson said Wednesday. “Everything's looking good but I just think the longer you can hold it off, then I guess the better it is. So we're just waiting.”
In his absence, the Packers' young defense has held strong, allowing an average of 18 points a game. The two players who have predominantly replaced the versatile Woodson, who played safety in the 3-4 base and slot cornerback in the oft-used nickel package, have flourished. Second-year S M.D. Jennings (interception returned for a touchdown in Week 11) and rookie CB Casey Hayward (team-high six interceptions) have mitigated the loss of the eight-time Pro Bowler.
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The Packers (11-4), who are seeded No. 3 in the NFC but could clinch the No. 2 seed with a win, are not expected to purposefully rest key starters or shift into neutral for the finale, like they did last season. The Vikings (9-6) are essentially playing to make the playoffs -- win and they're in, lose and they'll need some help. Also, RB Adrian Peterson is 208 yards shy of the all-time NFL single-season mark (Eric Dickerson, 2,105), and the Packers don't want that record broken against them.
Over his 15-year career, the only time Woodson (1.5 sacks, 1 INT in 2012) played in fewer than the seven games he's played this year was 2005, his last year with the Oakland Raiders, when he appeared in six.