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Aaron Rodgers returns to Packers practice Saturday

Aaron Rodgers is still on injured reserve, recovering from a broken collarbone suffered in October, but the Green Bay Packers quarterback made his return to the field this weekend. The practice field, that is.

Rodgers practiced on Saturday for the first time since suffering the injury and has been designated to return off injured reserve, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Saturday, per a source.

When asked whether Rodgers' return can inspire the playoff-hungry Packers, coach Mike McCarthy said Friday, "Absolutely. I think it's a big deal when you see your leader out there. 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. But I think you also have to be in-tune with the trial of return mode. ... But yeah, that'd be great to have him out there."

Rodgers is eligible to return to game play for Green Bay's Week 15 game against the Carolina Panthers, but won't undergo scans unil after the Week 14 game against the Cleveland Browns

Rodgers was seen throwing on the field ahead of the Packers' Week 12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. His response to surgery and his quick recovery inspired fellow Packers leader Clay Matthews to suggest Green Bay would have been better off keeping Rodgers off IR, allowing for a quicker return to the field.

The Packers got their first look Saturday at their franchise quarterback since his Week 6 injury forced Brett Hundley into the starting role. Under Hundley, Green Bay has stumbled out of prime playoff position. However, the QB's, and the team's, play has improved since his first start and the Packers, now at 5-6, still technically have a shot at January football.

If Green Bay can string together two wins against the lowly Buccaneers and Browns in the coming weeks, Rodgers will return to a team above .500 and within striking distance of a wild-card spot. That long road to the postseason, if it's still open, began this weekend.

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