(Reuters) – Standout quarterback Aaron Rodgers will return from injury to start for Green Bay in Sunday’s crucial National Football League game against the Chicago Bears, the Packers said on Thursday.
“He’s just relieved to play. He just wants to focus on football,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy told reporters on Thursday.
The winner of Sunday’s game at Chicago will win the NFC North title and qualify for the playoffs.
“I know they’re excited about my return,” Rodgers said of his team-mates. “(But) my coming back doesn’t alleviate any of the pressure on the guys.”
Rodgers has missed the past seven games with a broken left collarbone. He has been chomping at the bit to return to action the past few weeks, and the Packers’ medical staff has finally given him the green light.
“Every football player that plays Sunday will have risk,” McCarthy said. “We all understand that. We’ve done our due diligence, gone through all the evaluations and we feel Aaron is ready to play.
“Aaron has accepted the level of risk.”
McCarthy said it has been a stressful period for the 2011 Super Bowl most valuable player but now Rodgers was ready to play.
“He’s throwing the ball very well going on three weeks, getting ready for this moment, and the moment’s here,” the coach said.
The Packers (7-7-1) have struggled without Rodgers – going 2-4-1 in his absence – but remain in playoff contention in the weak NFC North, which the Bears lead with an 8-7 record.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Gene Cherry)