PITTSBURGH - Maybe there is hope for the Green Bay Packers this season.
Less than six weeks after surgery to repair his broken right clavicle, Aaron Rodgers threw the football Sunday for the first time publicly at Heinz Field, two and a half hours before kickoff between the Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The two-time MVP quarterback will not play against the Steelers, missing his fifth game with the broken right collarbone that occurred Oct. 15 at Minnesota. But the sight of Rodgers tossing passes to quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt offered some hope as a fading season turns to December.
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Rodgers threw approximately 40 times, including one that traveled roughly 50 yards. He then stopped to sign autographs with a few fans before disappearing inside a tunnel in the corner end zone.
One young Steelers fan offered Rodgers “good luck,” to which the quarterback responded with thanks, but added he would not be playing.
The hope was for Rodgers to be throwing six weeks after his Oct. 19 surgery. That date will come Thursday, so to see Rodgers already throwing is a good sign that his recovery is progressing well.
The next hurdle for Rodgers to clear will be returning to practice. He isn’t eligible to practice until six weeks after being placed on injured reserve. Because the Packers sent Rodgers to IR on Oct. 20, the six-week mark will come Friday. It’s possible the Packers would wait until after their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Rodgers to practice, if he’s able.
Rodgers has said he will not return until the broken bone heals. Just as necessary, and perhaps more unlikely, is the Packers remaining in playoff contention. At 5-5, their next three games will be especially important. Rodgers is eligible to return to play after the next three games, starting Week 15 against the Carolina Panthers.
Jim Matthews of USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin contributed.