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Cheese Curds, 12/15: Packers-Peppers reunion gives Rodgers’ return another layer

While Rodgers’ medical clearance is the big news, he’ll be pressured by an old friend on Sunday.

NFL: NFC Wild Card-New York Giants at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Early this week, the story of the Green Bay Packers’ matchup with the Carolina Panthers was Aaron Rodgers’ medical clearance and expected return from injured reserve — and with good reason.

However, as we approach the end of the week, another storyline has emerged once the excitement of Rodgers’ return settled in. That narrative involves the Packers playing against Julius Peppers, who spent the last three seasons wearing Green and Gold. Peppers’ veteran presence and leadership can still be felt on the team, as coaches and players alike continue to rave about his impact in the locker room.

There’s also another coincidental twist here. Rodgers has broken his collarbone twice, and as of this week, Peppers will be chasing him in his first game back both times.

Here is your final batch of links for week 15.

Packers excited to pair emerging run game with Aaron Rodgers |
When Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone, Jamaal Williams had carried the football 10 times for the Packers. Now he's coming off three straight games with at least 110 yards from scrimmage, while Aaron Jones should still be able to provide a spark as a complement.

Julius Peppers didn't get ring but left strong impression on Packers - ESPN
The Packers made a pair of NFC Championship Games with Peppers on the roster, but they couldn't break through to the Super Bowl. Now he's back where it all started with the Panthers, and still being productive at age 37.

Former Packer Julius Peppers has seen this Aaron Rodgers movie before | Packers Wire
It's also funny timing, because Peppers was trying to bring Rodgers down the last time he returned from a major injury. The two most notable plays in that week 17 game from 2013 were when Peppers forced a fumble out of Rodgers (that Jarrett Boykin picked up and took into the end zone) and when John Kuhn got a kick-out block on him to give Rodgers the time to hit Randall Cobb for the game-winning score.

Damarious Randall ready for Devin Funchess rematch |
Two years ago, both of these players were rookies trying to make an impact, and they both did so against one another. Funchess burned Randall for a score and another big play, while Randall had a big-time interception that set up the offense for an attempt to tie the game late.

2017 NFL MVP race: Antonio Brown and 5 non-QBs who should be candidates -
The last time a player who played something other than QB or RB won the MVP was when Lawrence Taylor did it in 1986. The last receiver to do it was -- just kidding, no wideout has ever won the MVP. This writer thinks Antonio Brown should be the first.

Cardinals placing Adrian Peterson on injured reserve -
Peterson had two big games for the Cardinals, but he averaged just 30 rushing yards per game in his other eight contests this season (both in New Orleans and Arizona) while putting together a miserable 2.5 yards per carry in those games.