Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers talks with coach Mike McCarthy during practice in the Don Hutson Center, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013. H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette Media
The quarterback is back.
It took 52 long and sometimes frustrating days for Aaron Rodgers to get the green light to return from his fractured left collarbone, but the Packers announced Thursday the return of their starting quarterback for this Sunday’s winner-take-all shown with Chicago for the NFC North title.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy wouldn’t go into the details of the decisions, but said it was agreed upon on Tuesday to allow Rodgers to return from the collarbone injury that has sidelined him for the past seven games.
With the evaluation and communication still not finished, they opted to wait until Thursday at 8:05 a.m. Central Time to tell the team.
So one month to the day Rodgers returned to practice, he's now been given clearance to return to the field on game day.
“I think he’s just relieved to play and frankly I know from our conversation this morning, it’s time to play football,” McCarthy said. “This situation, his situation particularly out in the media, the focus on our internal talks has been discussed thoroughly over and over and over again. He just wants to focus on playing football.”
The Packers went 2-5-1 since Rodgers suffered the injury on the first series against the Bears in a 27-20 loss at Lambeau Field on Nov. 4. Emotions hit fever pitch as of late pertaining to the healing of his collarbone and question about whether he had a legitimate chance at getting back on the field this year.
In this Sunday’s winner-take-all showdown for the NFC North Division title with the Chicago Bears, Aaron Rodgers will be back under center.
“I'm excited to be back with the team,” Rodgers said. “I mean this a fun day for me but I think the focus needs to be on this game and the opportunity we have to win the division, which is our first goal every year. We're in it, you know we have a chance against our rivals and what a better way than to go down there and get some redemption and host a home playoff game.”
McCarthy said Rodgers has accepted the risk that comes along with him playing less than two months since suffering the fracture and all parties are moving forward.
For Rodgers, who’s missed only one game due to injury in his five-plus years as starting quarterback, the past two months have been a trial in patience.
“I think it’s a great learning experience," Rodgers said. "Every time you’re faced with some adversity, I think you really take something away from that, and for me it was to be able to step back and look at the team from a different perspective, be on the headset. It’s tough not to be out there with the guys, but I think you learn a lot through the process, you find new ways to lead, you realize how important your attitude and your enthusiasm and the energy you bring to practice can be to the guys.
"I know they’re excited about my return, but I think that the way they believe in me and the expectations they have in me, I have the same ones for them. I believe in them and have expectations that they’re going to play well. My coming back doesn’t mask over any of that, or doesn’t alleviate pressure on the guys. I think the pressure that we put on ourselves, we can harness at this point and see how good we can really be."