The Green Bay Packers were sitting at 5-2 when they hosted the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. It was supposed to be an opportunity to claim the top of the NFC North, but instead became disastrous when Aaron Rodgers was injured. Without its franchise quarterback, the team went 0-4-1 and fell to third in the division. Good news could be right around the corner, with Rodgers taking reps in pads Thursday for the first time since his injury.
It's unclear when he will see the field again. Playing on Sunday against Atlanta is very unlikely, and a loss to the Falcons would ensure Green Bay misses the playoffs. However, a win could buy the team enough time for Rodgers to return as the starter. This would put the Packers at 6-6-1, which would put them one game out of the Wild Card, assuming teams above them lose. The chances aren't great, but they're there.
The Arizona Cardinals have quickly become one of the league's hottest teams on the back of their aggressive defense and excellent passing game. Much of the recent success stemmed from quarterback Carson Palmer, who shrugged off his early-season struggles to become reliable under center and develop a rapport with receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd.
Things could shift quickly, however. Palmer was limited in practice Thursday, with Drew Stanton taking additional reps in practice. Arizona faces a crucial NFC West matchup against the St. Louis Rams in Week 14, desperately needing a win to keep pressure on the San Francisco 49ers.
Tom Brady needs more weapons, specifically veteran receivers. To this end, the New England Patriots signed wide receiver Austin Collie on Thursday, just one month after the organization released him.
Collie has been an excellent receiver when healthy, but "healthy" is the operative word. Concussion issues have plagued his career since being drafted in 2009, resulting in the 28-year-old missing 22 of a possible 64 games entering the 2013 season.
It's unclear if the Patriots will get production out of the veteran, but he has another chance to resurrect his career.
Cleveland's season is over, but Jason Campbell's might not be. The Browns quarterback was cleared to practice on Thursday, but there's no indication of when he'll return to action. Campbell's career has been mired in missed opportunities, ranging back to being drafted by Washington. He's a player who fared well when given opportunities, but consistently found himself on rebuilding teams.
Campbell threw for 933 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions this season. He played in a relief role after an injury to Brian Hoyer, and it's unclear if he will regain the starting job from Brandon Weeden.
The Washington Redskins have an important decision to make in 2014 when outside linebacker Brian Orakpo is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. It's an easy choice for Orakpo himself, telling the Washington Post that he wants to stay with the team.
Orakpo has totaled 43 tackles and 8.5 sacks this season, bringing his career total to 38 sacks. He has been one of the league's most consistent pass rushers, and it seems likely the team will try to retain the 27-year-old.