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NFL news roundup: Aaron Rodgers is back

The Green Bay Packers are getting back their quarterback at the last second, and the NFC playoff picture just took a turn.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries ravaged the Green Bay Packers' season, but the team is getting healthy at the right time. Head coach Mike McCarthy confirmed Thursday that quarterback Aaron Rodgers will start against the Chicago Bears in Week 17.

Rodgers suffered a fractured collarbone against the Bears in Week 9, but the NFC North was unable to keep the Packers out of the picture. The game on Sunday is a win-and-in between both teams, with Green Bay capable of winning the division with a victory.

Chicago has had injuries at the quarterback position, too, recently getting back Jay Cutler. Their biggest problem has been an uncharacteristically porous defense, which allowed the Philadelphia Eagles to score 54 points in Week 16. They will face a huge test with Rodgers at the helm, provided he is able to return to his early-season form.

Da'Quan Bowers placed on IR

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are shutting down defensive end Da'Quan Bowers with one game left in the 2013 season.

Once regarded as a top-10 pick, Bowers fell in the draft due to concerns about a knee injury and has registered 5.5 sacks since being selected in 2011. There is no indication if this injury is linked to those earlier problems, but it's a disappointing end to an ineffective season.

ACL injuries are down around the NFL

Commissioner Roger Goodell has heavily invested in league-wide changes to ensure player safety in helmet-to-helmet hits, and early fears were that rules changes would result in more lower-body injuries. This fear was dispelled Thursday when a league memo indicated the 2013 season has seen a total of 30 ACL injuries, the lowest since 2009.

Lions sign Rugby speedster

Detroit's season is over, but the team is looking at unconventional ways to add offensive weapons for next season. The Lions announced they signed rugby player Carlin Isles to their practice squad, giving him an opportunity to make the team's roster in 2014.

Isles was a representative of the USA's Rugby Sevens team in 2012, and widely regarded as the fastest man in the sport coming from a track background at Ashland University. Cracking an active roster will be difficult, but he could be a fascinating player to watch in preseason games next year.

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