Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will return to the starting lineup Sunday afternoon in the Green Bay Packers’ NFC North showdown with the Chicago Bears.
Coach Mike McCarthy made the announcement this afternoon, ending speculation that had clearly rankled him, Rodgers and Packers management about when the quarterback would be cleared to play. “I’ll start with the announcement,” McCarthy said. ” … we are preparing for the Chicago Bears with Aaron Rodgers as our starting quarterback.”
Rodgers, who has practiced fully with the team, had missed the last seven games since breaking his left collarbone on the Packers’ first series of plays in their Nov. 4 loss to the Bears. Since he was injured, the Packers have gone 2-4-1, but miraculously can win the NFC North in the regular-season finale, provided they beat the Bears in Chicago. He acknowledged the frustration he felt at going week-to-week as the decision whether to clear him was made by a number of people, including the team’s front office with the final decision.
Rodgers said he learned that he had been cleared “when the team did” in a morning meeting. He admitted that being part of the process didn’t minimize the frustration. “It’s been a difficult process for me, thinking I was going to have a chance every week and obviously the medical decision based on what we saw and the organization with the ultimate call.” he said. “I was hopeful that the opportunity would come up, but, no, there’s no guarantees in this business.”
The Packers are 7-7-1, the Bears 8-7 and now, Rodgers may be rusty, but the Packers are going into the game with their best chance at winning. Green Bay went from a 4 1/2-point underdog to being rated a 3-point favorite — on the road — by SuperBook in Las Vegas.
“It’s a great learning experience,” he said with a smile. “Any time you’re faced with some adversity, I think you can really take something away from that,” Rodgers told reporters. “For me, it was just being able to step back and look at the team from a different perspective…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 can be. “