Aaron Rodgers' Return from Injury Reportedly Targeted for Week 15 vs. Panthers

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2017

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 19:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers leaves the field following a game against the Baltimore Ravens at Lambeau Field on November 19, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers are aiming for quarterback Aaron Rodgers to return in Week 15, according to ESPN.com, though that is "contingent on Green Bay being in playoff contention and Rodgers receiving medical clearance."

If both conditions are met, Rodgers would take the field Dec. 17 against the Carolina Panthers. The team activated the veteran Saturday after he spent six weeks on injured reserve after breaking his collarbone Oct. 15 versus the Minnesota Vikings.

Rodgers, 34, was having another excellent season for the Packers, throwing for 1,385 yards, 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions while completing 66.3 percent of his passes. The Packers were 4-1 heading into their matchup with the Vikings when Rodgers was hurt.

Since then, the team has gone just 1-5, with Brett Hundley (1,185 passing yards, five touchdowns, seven interceptions) struggling under center. As ESPN reported, Rodgers had previously stated he planned on playing again this season if his injury fully healed, though it's hard to imagine the Packers putting him on the field if their playoff aspirations were extinguished.

Reaching the postseason is a long shot for Green Bay (5-6). Five teams are ahead of the Packers in the wild-card chase: Panthers (8-3), Falcons (7-4), Seahawks (7-4), Lions (6-5) and Cowboys (6-6).

Winning a division title won't be any easier, with the Packers behind the Vikings (9-2) and Lions. Green Bay lost against both Minnesota and Detroit this season, with matchups against the Vikings in Week 16 and Lions in Week 17. Essentially, the Packers would need to win out and would need the Vikings to completely flame out down the stretch to steal the NFC North crown.

Suffice to say, it's hard to imagine Rodgers returning to action if the Packers don't win their next two games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns. That would give them a shot to reach the postseason, albeit facing a gauntlet of prospective playoff teams in the final three weeks.

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