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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers is himself again physically and mentally, and don't underestimate the latter in assessing the state of the Green Bay Packers star quarterback.

"Dealing with injury always can mess with you psychologically," Rodgers told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday. "I was able to get a renewed passion for what we're doing and got to sit back and watch for a while and get a good perspective on the game I love.

"I think I'm in a good place. We're in a good place."

Rehabbing from a broken collarbone that cost Rodgers nearly eight full games last season was tough enough. The drain of what became Rodgers' routine — prepare to play Sunday only to be ruled out Friday by a team that desperately needed him in a playoff chase — was almost worse.

"I mean, what a grind," Packers coach Mike McCarthy told USA TODAY Sports. "Every week trying to play and then told he can't play and just the emotion the guy went through there at the end. And then he comes back. My goodness, the Chicago game."

Eight weeks after Rodgers was injured last Nov. 4 against the Chicago Bears — the timeline the Packers' doctors set from the start — he returned for the regular-season finale in Chicago and threw a 48-yard touchdown to Randall Cobb on fourth-and-8 in the final minute to snag the NFC North title at Soldier Field.

Rodgers nearly helped the Packers to a wild-card upset of the San Francisco 49ers, too, before heading into an offseason that finally allowed him to reset and reflect.

His focus and play since he returned to the field for OTAs in May have been remarkable, even by his lofty standards.

"As good as he already is, you think it's kind of hard for him to get better," Cobb told USA TODAY Sports.

"But with the way he prepared himself this offseason physically, I think his mental state is in a different world, in a different realm right now, and he's been killing it so far in training camp."

Rodgers was extraordinarily sharp Monday night, flicking passes on target from all sorts of awkward angles. Three years removed from an MVP season and four from the win in Super Bowl XLV, he's still in his prime physically at age 30 and doing whatever he can to stay there as long as he can.

"I feel great," Rodgers said. "I paid a lot of attention to my body and nutrition, yoga, flexibility and stuff this offseason in hopes of this being the halfway point of my career — playing nine (seasons) and trying to get nine more."

There are many reasons for optimism heading into this season in Green Bay. The Packers have added potential difference-makers on defense (pass rusher Julius Peppers, rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix). They have core players fully healthy (Cobb, linebacker Clay Matthews, tackle Bryan Bulaga). There's a better backup plan at quarterback with Matt Flynn on the roster in camp.

But the Packers' chances for contending in the stacked NFC come down, as always, to Rodgers, who is capable of elevating the players around him like few others in the game. If the California native's body can hold up, it shouldn't be a problem to keep his mind right as well.

"He does a great job of getting away, going home, going out to the (West) Coast," McCarthy said. "He's got an excellent network of people, support group around him personally.

"I think he's in as good of a place as he's ever been. He's at peace."

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Follow Tom Pelissero on Twitter @TomPelissero

PHOTOS: NFL training camp action

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