NFL - Rogers set for Packers return

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers will start at quarterback for the first time in nearly two months when the Packers face the Bears on Sunday in Chicago.

Rodgers worked with the first-team offense on Thursday and was a full participant in practice for the first time since he suffered a broken left collarbone in a Nov. 4 game against the Bears.

Coach Mike McCarthy informed the team for the first time at an 8:05 meeting on Thursday morning that Rodgers was on target to be the starter on Sunday.

Rodgers had worked behind his replacement, Matt Flynn, since returning to practice several weeks ago while he recovered from the broken collarbone.

The Packers (7-7-1) are preparing to take on the Bears (8-7) in a game that will decide the NFC North champion and a spot in the playoffs.

- - -

Quarterback Jon Kitna will donate his game check from Sunday night's NFC East showdown between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles to the high school where he serves as a math teacher and football coach.

The Cowboys signed the 41-year-old Kitna out of retirement on Wednesday to serve as a backup in case starter Tony Romo is unable to play because of a back injury and reserve Kyle Orton steps into a primary role.

Kitna's paycheck will be approximately $53,000 for a week of work, which comes during a winter break from classes at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington.

- - -

The Detroit Lions took a flyer on a player called the fastest man in American rugby. Carlin Isles, who played NCAA Division II football and ran track at Ashland University in Ohio, tried out with the Lions earlier in the week and signed on Thursday as a wide receiver, the team announced.

The Lions timed Isles, a member of the U.S. rugby sevens team, at 4.22 seconds in the 40-yard dash during the workout, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The Lions had an opening on their practice squad when tight end Dorin Dickerson was placed on injured reserve and tight end Matt Veldman was elevated to the 53-man active roster for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings.

- - -

The Buffalo Bills' quarterback situation remains up in the air heading into the final regular-season game against the New England Patriots on Sunday.

The Bills had planned on rookie EJ Manuel, who missed last week's victory over the Miami Dolphins with a sprained knee, being ready to start at New England. That might not be the case now after Manuel was a limited participant during Thursday's practice.

"Both quarterbacks participated in practice," Bills coach Doug Marrone said of Manuel and backup Thad Lewis, the starter last week. "EJ looked improved today and we're still in the process of making a decision on how we're going to move forward."

- - -

So frustrated was rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen to be sitting out at the beginning of the 2013 season that the San Diego Chargers' leading receiver said he was a snap away from leaving the NFL for a career in the music industry.

Allen, a third-round pick from California, was recovering from a season-ending knee injury and was playing behind Eddie Royal, Danario Alexander and Malcom Floyd. But as injuries added up and Allen gained confidence, he climbed the depth chart to become an indispensable part of the offense. He leads San Diego with 967 receiving yards and ranks third with 66 receptions.

"After I didn't play after that first game, I was about another snap away of not playing from quitting," Allen told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "(I wasn't) living up to my expectations of starting. I've never been a role player-type guy. Not easy at all."

- - -

Wide receiver Dez Bryant tweaked a lingering back injury Wednesday and is being monitored closely by the Dallas Cowboys this week, coach Jason Garrett said Thursday.

Bryant, the team's leading receiver with 85 receptions and 12 touchdowns, has battled a lower back issue off and on for several weeks. He was limited in practice and could rest most of the week. He is expected to play Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Already the Cowboys are facing the likelihood that quarterback Tony Romo will be unavailable. He is reportedly dealing with a herniated disk in his back and received an epidural injection. If he cannot play, Kyle Orton will start.

"We'll continue to evaluate (Romo)," Garrett said, though Romo did not attend team and position meetings for the second consecutive day. "Pain is the biggest issue."

- - -

If coach Wade Phillips knows who will start at quarterback for the Houston Texans on Sunday, he is not sharing the information with the Tennessee Titans.

Case Keenum missed Week 16 with a thumb injury and Matt Schaub, who began the season as the starter, took his spot. Keenum said last week that he plans to be ready to go Sunday against the Titans, but his status remains up in the air with the injury to his throwing hand.