Aaron Rodgers confirms he's medically cleared

Packers quarterback is eligible to play this Sunday in Carolina


GREEN BAY – He's back.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers confirmed through his Instagram account Tuesday evening he has been medically cleared to return from the broken right collarbone he sustained in October. The two-time MVP quarterback, who returned to practice on Dec. 2, can be activated from injured reserve on Friday and is eligible to play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.

Rodgers has missed the last seven games after breaking his right collarbone on Oct. 15 in Minnesota. He underwent surgery to insert screws into the collarbone later that week and was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 20.

Rodgers was off to an MVP-caliber start prior to the injury, powering the Packers to a 4-1 record. In six starts, he completed 128-of-193 passes for 1,385 yards with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions (103.2 passer rating).

Head Coach Mike McCarthy told reporters on Monday Rodgers underwent tests to determine how the surgically-repaired collarbone had healed. McCarthy said a decision on the quarterback's availability wouldn't be made until weighing the opinions of the Packers' training staff, team physician, Dr. Pat McKenzie, and other experts in the field.

The Packers designated Rodgers as their second player to return off IR when he practiced Dec. 2. He's impressed teammates and coaches with his arm strength and ran the scout-team offense in the lead-up to Sunday's game in Cleveland.

"Arguably the best quarterback in the league, back to your team, everyone is going to get better," said Packers linebacker Clay Matthews on Sunday. "Not only him being out there, but also the shot in the arm as we talk about him coming back. Watching him in practice and what he's been able to do these past couple weeks, getting more and more reps in practice and throwing on the pads, I think it's a good sign. I'm not going to speak on his behalf, but we sure hope he's ready and if he is, we're going to expect the Aaron of old."

Backup quarterback Brett Hundley started the past seven games in Rodgers' absence, leading Green Bay to back-to-back overtime wins over Tampa Bay and Cleveland to keep the Packers in playoff contention with a 7-6 record.

With three regular-season games remaining, the Packers currently are three games behind Minnesota in the NFC North and one game behind Atlanta (8-5) and Seattle (8-5) in the race for the final Wild Card playoff spot.

Rodgers missed seven games due to a broken collarbone in his non-throwing shoulder in 2013, an experience McCarthy said helped guide Rodgers' rehab and recovery this time around.

Rodgers returned in the regular-season finale that season, completing a game-winning touchdown pass to Randall Cobb to propel the Packers over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field en route to the NFC North Division title.

The Packers return to the practice field on Wednesday afternoon.

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