GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers has been “medically cleared to return” to action after missing seven games with a broken right collarbone, the Green Bay Packers quarterback announced on Instagram Tuesday night.
Rodgers was hurt during a loss to Minnesota on Oct. 15 and had surgery four days later. He returned to practice on Dec. 2 and is eligible to rejoin the 53-man roster on Friday, which means the two-time MVP could suit up for Green Bay’s game at Carolina on Sunday.
“It’s been a long road … but I’m happy to say I’ve been medically cleared to return,” Rodgers wrote on Tuesday night. “Thanks for all the love, support, prayers and well wishes over the past 8 weeks and a big thank you to Dr. (Pat) McKenzie and our incredible training staff.”
The Packers (7-6) likely need to win their final three games to make the playoffs.
Rodgers had his collarbone scanned on Monday morning. That afternoon, with the team in the middle of game-planning for Carolina, coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t sure whether Rodgers or backup Brett Hundley would be his quarterback.
“I’d like to know as soon as possible,” McCarthy said. “Frankly, it’s best for Aaron to know as soon as possible. He’s the one that has to get ready and, obviously, in his mind he’s ready to go if you watch him practice and the conversations with him. But this is a medical decision and Dr. McKenzie is in touch with a number of different medical experts and they’re evaluating the information.”
Those meetings ran deep into Tuesday before a conclusion was reached.
The Packers were 4-2 in Rodgers’ six starts, including the Minnesota game, where he was hurt on the second possession on a hit by Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr. In the three prior games, he threw 10 touchdown passes with only one interception in in consecutive victories over Cincinnati, Chicago and Dallas.
After playing the Panthers, who at 9-4 are in position for the top NFC wild card, the Packers have a rematch against NFC North-leading Minnesota before finishing the season at Detroit. Green Bay’s final three opponents have a combined record of 26-13.
The Packers went 3-4 in Hundley’s seven starts, including back-to-back overtime wins over Tampa Bay and Cleveland that kept their playoff hopes alive and made Rodgers’ return a tantalizing possibility.
“We’ve got a chance,” left tackle David Bakhtiari said after Sunday’s victory at Cleveland. “We know what the magic number is. We still have everything in front of us. It’s go time.”
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