WHILE SAYING Aaron Rodgers feels ready to play, coach Mike McCarthy it was tough to break the news to him that he wouldn't be taking snaps tomorrow at Dallas.

"Hey, it's not the easiest thing to sit there and tell your franchise quarterback he can't play in the game when he wants to play in the game," McCarthy said after practice yesterday. "This is clearly a decision that's made in the best interest of Aaron Rodgers."

Rodgers has been sidelined since he broke collarbone early in Green Bay's loss to Chicago on Nov. 4.

Rodgers practiced on a limited basis this week and even took some reps with the first-string offense in team drills Wednesday and Thursday.

But still not enough to apparently sway the decision to have him play in a critical game for the Packers. This will be the sixth straight game Rodgers misses.

"Frankly, it's been a difficult morning going through the conversation with Aaron and [team] Dr. [Pat] McKenzie," McCarthy said. "[Rodgers] feels like he's ready to play. He's had a good week of preparation. [But] he did very little today.

"He's very disappointed. He's frustrated. But speaking with Dr. McKenzie, this is the right decision."

Matt Flynn will make his third straight start in place of Rodgers as the Packers (6-6-1) try to stay in contention for the NFC North title with three games left. They are a half game behind division co-leaders Detroit and Chicago, both 7-6.

Flynn rallied Green Bay from a halftime deficit of 11 points to a 22-21 win over Atlanta last Sunday, snapping the Packers' five-game winless streak.

Dallas linebacker Sean Lee also has been ruled out of the game, with a neck injury.

Noteworthy

* A struggling Chicago defense will wait at least one more week to get seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs back after fracturing his left shoulder Oct. 20. Bears coach Marc Trestman ruled Briggs out for tomorrow's game at Cleveland, but added chances look better for a return in the Dec. 22 game at Philadelphia. Briggs practiced on a limited basis Thursday and yesterday. Rutgers rookie Khaseem Greene has been playing in Briggs' place.

* Denver linebacker Von Miller was fined $25,000 by the NFL for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Tennessee quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick last Sunday.

Also, Chicago receiver Brandon Marshall was docked $15,000 for wearing non-approved orange cleats during the Bears' win over Dallas on Monday. Cowboys defensive back Orlando Scandrick was fined $21,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Marshall, who was deemed a defenseless player on the play.

Dallas' George Selvie, Baltimore's Courtney Upshaw and Buffalo's Jairus Byrd were each fined $15,750 for roughing the passer.

Pittsburgh center Cody Wallace was fined $7,875 for unnecessary roughness - for repeatedly poking Miami's Randy Starks in the backside with his left fist, trying to make the defensive tackle cough up the fumble he just recovered during the second quarter. Wallace was fined an additional $10,000 for a late hit in the fourth quarter.

New Orleans punter Thomas Morstead was docked $7,875 for grabbing and twisting Carolina's Ted Ginn Jr. by the facemask.

Oakland's Lamarr Houston was fined $7,875 for a late hit on Jets quarterback Geno Smith, while Arizona's Darnell Dockett must pay the same amount for unnecessarily stepping on the hand of St. Louis' Chris Williams.

* Kansas City will be missing its starting left tackle, top tight end, leading pass rusher and now potentially its most dangerous punt returner for tomorrow's game at Oakland.

Dexter McCluster, who has already brought back two punts for touchdowns this season, was listed as questionable for the Raiders game after a small cut on his ankle that he picked up in the mud and snow last week against Washington got infected.

The Chiefs were already preparing to play without left tackle Branden Albert (hyperextended knee), tight end Anthony Fasano (concussion) and linebacker Justin Houston (dislocated elbow).

Also, the Chiefs City re-signed receiver Chad Hall and re-released defensive tackle Jerrell Powe.

* New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul will miss his third straight game with a shoulder injury.

* Jacksonville released veteran defensive end Jeremy Mincey after he was late for another meeting. Mincey was inactive for two games and fined last month after showing up late.

* The New York Jets placed second-year receiver Stephen Hill on injured reserve with an ailing left knee. Hill had just 24 catches for 342 yards and a touchdown in what many expected could be a breakout year.

* New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan says his verbal commitment to take a job in St. Louis was made hastily while he was still upset over his firing in Dallas. Ryan said he backed out because he owed it to himself and his family to make sure he found the best fit for his style as a coach.

The Rams host the Saints tomorrow.

"It was kind of a complicated thing. I think getting fired in Dallas was a shock to my system," Ryan said. "I took a job with the Rams; hadn't had anything signed. Just from being there and finding out the direction of how they wanted to do things, it was my obligation not only to me, but to them, to just walk away and look for something different.

"I don't think I can fully commit to something that wasn't exactly what I believed in, despite having great people in the building," Ryan continued, referring to the Rams. "They have Jeff Fisher, who has been a friend of my family. We love him, we respect him. He's a great coach."