Yes, the Packers' locker room was abuzz on Wednesday after Rodgers began preparations for his return Sunday at the Carolina Panthers after missing nearly two months because of his broken right collarbone. But the quarterback stressed it will take more than just his return to get the Packers into the playoffs.
"Hopefully it gives a lift to some of the guys, but I'm not coming back to save this team," Rodgers said. "I'm coming back to play quarterback the way I know how to play it. Hopefully, we all raise the level of our play collectively and find a way to win these three games."
At 7-6, the Packers almost certainly have to run the table to have any chance for a ninth straight postseason appearance. The Packers went 3-4 with Brett Hundley as Rodgers' replacement, including consecutive overtime wins the past two weeks to make it worthwhile for Rodgers to return.
"I think our football has done an excellent job of finding different ways to win," McCarthy said. "We're not going to go to Carolina with a bunch of false confidence. We understand the impact that Aaron Rodgers makes for our football team and, hell, the impact that he'd make for anybody's football team. He's a great player; he's an impact player. We're in a position that we're in. We're 7-6. We clearly understand what's on the line here."
Rodgers was off to a hot start before he broke his right clavicle on Oct. 15 against the Minnesota Vikings. He led the league in touchdown passes (13) through five weeks and pulled off a pair of last-minute comeback wins against the Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys.
But eight weeks on injured reserve could make it difficult for Rodgers to pick up where he left off and for him to move out of the pocket as much as he likes. It was on a rollout pass at Minnesota when he was injured, after linebacker Anthony Barr hit him and landed on top of him near the sideline.
Technically, Rodgers isn't even on the Packers' roster yet because he can't be activated from injured reserve until the eight-week mark, on Friday. But he took the No. 1 reps in practice Wednesday.
"I feel confident I will be able to go out there and play the way I've always played, but I've been off for seven games and been out for a while," Rodgers said. "So, it's going to take getting out there, getting that first pass, getting that first hit, and I'll probably settle in."
Rodgers has experience coming back from a broken collarbone. He missed seven games in 2013 with a broken left clavicle. He did not have surgery back then, as he did on his right clavicle this time around. When he came back for the regular-season finale in 2013 against the Chicago Bears, he scrambled only once, and although he was sacked three times, he anticipated the pressure on two of them and went down to avoid getting hit.
Rodgers wouldn't say much, if anything, about whether he had to lobby team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie to clear him this week.
"I wouldn't be standing here ready to play if I wasn't confident I could go out there and play the way that I've always played," Rodgers said. "There's just no point in doing that. It's a risky game; it's a dangerous game. There's risks every time you step on the field.
"With the concussions that have happened in this game, that, to me, is something to be more worried about than altering your play to take a shot and landing on your shoulder again. That's something that we deal with and that's why we love this game. I think [Pittsburgh Steelers safety] Mike Mitchell had a lot of good points when he was talking about the nature of this game. It's a physical game, and you have to go out and play as much as you can without fear. That's why I'm here, that's why we're cleared and that's why I'm playing."