The long wait for Aaron Rodgers' preseason debut appears at an end. On Monday, he took first-team reps, a strong indication that the Green Bay Packers plan to start him on Friday against the San Francisco 49ers.
The Packers have kept Rodgers in street clothes during each of its preseason matchups with the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders. Had the league not cancelled the Pro Football Hall of Fame game due to field conditions, Rodgers almost certainly would have sat out that contest as well. The team understandably has taken a cautious approach with its franchise quarterback, who has spent a decade in head coach Mike McCarthy's system and needs only minimal live reps in order to prepare for the regular season.
Rodgers' potential return syncs up well with that of wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who came off the physically unable to perform list last week and could take part in his first NFL game since suffering a torn ACL almost exactly a year ago. Getting Rodgers and Nelson on the same page is one of the Packers' top priorities of the preseason, as the offense notably struggled without the tandem last season.
Assuming Rodgers does play on Friday, Green Bay would likely reduce the number of snaps for undrafted free agent Joe Callahan, who played over a full half of football last week against the Raiders. That workload could shrink even more if top backup Brett Hundley manages to return from his most recent ankle injury.