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Packers hopeful Aaron Rodgers can return to practice Saturday

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The Packers could soon have their starting quarterback back on the practice field.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Rodgers remains at least two weeks away from returning to live action from a broken collarbone, but the Green Bay Packers feel optimistic that their starting quarterback can take a huge step in the recovery process this Saturday. Head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters that Rodgers could practice Saturday.

McCarthy's admission that the Packers eye a "trial return" on Saturday marks the most meaningful development in Rodgers' recovery since the news that he had metal plates and more than a dozen screws surgically placed in his shoulder to stabilize his fractured collarbone. Rodgers threw passes before last week's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, though that activity pales in comparison to even limited practice reps.

However, a trial practice doesn't mean the Packers' medical staff has cleared Rodgers to play. The quarterback might not have undergone any X-ray work to verify that the bone has healed, something he must do before appearing in a game. Still, getting Rodgers re-acclimated to his teammates could go a long way towards paving the way to his return.

Of course, the Packers must remain viable playoff contenders to justify Rodgers returning. That likely means the team needs to win both of its upcoming matchups against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns, the final two games before the two-time MVP first becomes eligible to come off injured reserve.