The idea that the Packers, after losing Aaron Rodgers for eight weeks in the middle of the season, would be in playoff contention heading into Week 15 seemed crazy. But here we are, with Green Bay 7-6 and capable of making the playoffs if they can run the table again this season. Making it even more likely is the available return of Rodgers, who is eligible to come off IR and play against the Panthers this Sunday.

But it's not quite that simple, with some people -- including medical personnel -- within the organization questioning whether or not to allow Rodgers to play against Carolina. 

That's the news from Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, who reports that "the Packers and other voices with whom they are consulting are being far more cautious" with the injury than Rodgers himself has been.

The Packers are not an aggressive team when it comes to handling injuries and rushing players back on the field, and it would hardly be surprising to see them want to protect Rodgers long-term. They have a shot at the playoffs this year, but if Rodgers were to suffer worse damage that put 2018 in jeopardy, the risk/reward would hardly be worth it. 

Rapoport adds that the Packers "will be deliberate" and that Rodgers could be cleared for Week 16 if, for some reason, the Packers decide not to play him this week. 

Put more succinctly: the Packers are not locked into playing Rodgers this week, even though he is theoretically eligible to play. 

There is major risk in putting the quarterback on the field with a bone that is in the range of 80 percent healed, especially when another shot to said bone could create further problems. Remember, this is not the 2013 injury Rodgers battled on his non-throwing shoulder. This is his throwing shoulder and that is a bigger concern. 

Maybe this should have been more clear when Packers coach Mike McCarthy took to the podium on Monday and described Rodgers situation as "a medical decision," meaning that if the doctors don't clear the quarterback, he is not going to play. 

The Packers have been targeting Week 15 for a while now, but a target does not always equate to an exact timeframe for a player returning.

When Rodgers suffered the collarbone injury against the Vikings, the logical assumption was he would miss the rest of the season. Everyone and his brother was floated as a option to replace him, but the Packers ultimately went with Brett Hundley. After a shaky couple starts, Hundley has helped the Packers win back-to-back games, going 3-4 with Rodgers out and positioning the Packers to stay in the hunt.

It may be all for naught if Rodgers is not cleared by the docs in Green Bay.