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The guys at PackersNews.com give their predictions for the Week 13 showdown between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. (Dec. 1, 2017) USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

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GREEN BAY - On his 34th birthday Saturday, quarterback Aaron Rodgers returned to practice with the Green Bay Packers for the first time since breaking his right collarbone Oct. 15 against  the Minnesota Vikings, a source confirmed.

The news was first reported by the NFL Network.

The Packers used their final return from injured reserve designation on Rodgers, who is on schedule in his rehab but still has hurdles to clear before he can be deemed fit to play.

A team can't practice a player on injured reserve unless they officially use their return designation. The Packers used their first return designation on right tackle Jason Spriggs, now the team’s starter after Bryan Bulaga’s season-ending torn ACL.

Rodgers is eligible to return to game action against the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 17. Although he met the goal of being able to practice six weeks after undergoing surgery, he won't be medically cleared until he undergoes a bone scan to determine how well his shoulder has healed.

Rodgers threw approximately 40 passes to quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt during a workout  before the Packers' game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

“You saw him throwing out there in Pittsburgh,” Van Pelt said. “He’s doing well. He’s getting healthy, and he’s following right along in rehab. He’s probably ahead of the curve a little bit, but there’s really not anything to talk about until there’s something to talk about.”

The Packers (5-6) host Tampa Bay on Sunday and visit winless Cleveland the following week. They likely will need to win both games to remain in playoff contention and make it worthwhile for Rodgers to return this season.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Friday that Rodgers’ return to practice could give his team a morale boost.

“I think it’s a big deal when you see your leader out there,” McCarthy said. “Yeah, definitely. The guys have been able to watch him work here the last couple weeks. He’s been going through the fundamental part of it. I think you also have to be in tune with the trial return mode.

“But, yeah, that’d be great to have him out there.”

Ryan Wood of USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin contributed.

 

 

 

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