GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers is on track to practice Saturday, 45 days after the surgery to repair his broken right collarbone.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback was actually eligible to return to practice on Friday, but coach Mike McCarthy uses Fridays before a Sunday game for recovery, treatment and meetings, and then puts the team through a short practice on Saturdays.
Rodgers has a workout scheduled for Friday, and barring a setback, he would practice Saturday.
"We're looking tomorrow to potentially practice him in a trial return," McCarthy said Friday morning. "That's the outlook. We'll determine that tomorrow after his work today."
Rodgers still can't play for two more weeks because he must remain on injured reserve for eight weeks. He was placed on IR on Oct. 20, one day after his surgery. The Packers (5-6) play Tampa Bay on Sunday and at winless Cleveland the following week. They probably would need to win both to stay in playoff contention until Rodgers could return for the Dec. 17 game at Carolina.
Rodgers threw on the field in Pittsburgh before Sunday night's game at Heinz Field, chucking the ball more than 50 yards on several throws. It was the first time he had thrown in public since he had the plate and screws implanted into his right clavicle.
"He's doing well," Packers quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said this week. "You saw him throwing out there in Pittsburgh -- he's doing well. He's getting healthy, and he's following right along in rehab. He's probably ahead of the curve a little bit, but there's really not anything to talk about until there's something to talk about."
Saturday's practice is closed to the media, but the Packers will have to notify the league if Rodgers takes part, and it would appear on the daily transaction wire because it would mean the team would have used one of their two "designated to return" spots from injured reserve. They've already used one this season on tackle Jason Spriggs.
"I think it's a big deal when you see your leader out there," McCarthy said of the impact Rodgers' return to practice would have. "Yeah, definitely. The guys have been able to watch him work here the last couple weeks. He's been going through the fundamental part of it. I think you also have to be in tune with the trial return mode, which every player as you work through their protocol and procedure specifics of how they're coming back from their specific injuries. But, yeah, that'd be great to have him out there."