Aaron Rodgers: Timeline for Packers return will 'come down to the bone healing'

For the first time since he broke his collarbone on Oct. 15, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers met with the media on Friday. As expected, questions about a timeline for his return came up. But Rodgers didn't offer any specifics in terms of a date.

Still, it's simple. He return comes down to how the bone is healing.

"It's going to come down to the bone healing. That's the most important thing," Rodgers said, per the team's website. "There won't be a decision made until that bone is healed, so it's not even a conversation if it's not where it needs to be."

When Rogers initially suffered the injury, the team admitted that Rodgers could miss the remainder of the season. Rodgers then underwent surgery and was placed on injured reserve, which made him eligible to return after eight weeks. According to ESPN's Rob Demovsky, the Packers are "holding out hope" that he can return for their Week 15 game against the Panthers on Dec. 17. 

But that likely won't be up to Rodgers. It's not a pain tolerance deal; instead, it's entirely up to how quickly the bone heals.

"I'm always positive," he said. "It comes down to how fast the bone heals. If it heals and we're in the right position, then there's a conversation. If the bone isn't healed, there's absolutely no conversation to be had."

So there are two factors at play here: how Rodgers' bone heals, and how the Packers fare with Brett Hundley under center. If the Packers fall out of playoff contention without Rodgers, there's no use in rushing him back. But if they're still alive, it makes total sense for him to come back. Remember when Rodgers returned from a broken collarbone to stun the Bears in Week 17 of the 2013 season with a late fourth-down touchdown, which won them the division? Bears fans certainly do. 

At 4-3, the Packers are still in the mix. But they've got games against the Lions, Bears, Ravens, Steelers, Buccaneers, and Browns to get through until the Week 15 target that Demovsky identified. None of those games -- except the Browns one -- is a gimme for the Rodgers-less Packers. Plus, the Vikings are rolling at 6-2. So, it's not inconceivable to think the Packers could be almost out of it by Week 15.

But if they are in it and the bone is healed, he'll be back.

"I want to be healthy, that's the most important thing," he said. "But if we're healthy in eight weeks and it would make sense to come back, then I'm going to come back."

Rodgers declined to add more fuel to the fire after the Vikings and Packers spent the week after the injury defending and attacking Anthony Barr for his takedown, which didn't result in a fine for the Vikings linebacker. Rodgers still seems to think Barr went too far, but admitted that the league deemed the hit a legal one.

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"It was deemed a legal hit. You know that you don't have the same protection outside the pocket," he said. "A simple shove-down probably would have sufficed in that situation, but it is what it is."

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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