Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is returning to the field just in time for the playoff push.
“It’s been a long road from that day to this, but I’m happy to say I’ve been medically cleared to return,” Rodgers wrote on Instagram, along with a photo of himself in the hospital. “Thanks for all the love, support, prayers, and well wishes over the past 8 weeks. And a big thank you to Dr. McKenzie and our incredible training staff. #riseagain.”
Rodgers broke his right collarbone when he was hit by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr. That was approximately two months ago, on Oct. 15. He’s been out ever since.
Still, as videos of him throwing in practice have surfaced, reports have also shown that he wants to play.
“One of the big factors that played into this was Aaron Rodgers very, very badly wanted to play,” Ian Rapoport claimed on NFLNetwork on Tuesday, per Edward Lewis of NFL.com. “And that’s one thing that’s been clear the entire time with Rodgers is ever since he broke his collarbone, he was aggressive in his recovery to try to get ready for Week 15.”
That now appears to have paid off.
“Per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, [Rodgers] will start Sunday against the Carolina Panthers,” Lewis added.
It’s huge timing for the Packers, who are 7-6. They’re in third place in the NFC North, behind the 7-6 Detroit Lions (on a tiebreaker) and the 10-3 Minnesota Vikings. They already lost to both of those teams once, but they have them both again to close out the season. The Panthers, a key player in that NFC wild-card picture, are 9-4.
In short, the Packers essentially need to win out and get to 10-6 to have a shot at the playoffs, but they have three tough games in a row. With quarterback Brett Hundley, they won against the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in overtime the past two weeks.
Rodgers knows that won’t cut it in these last three games, and he’s back to give them a spark.