With the Browns preparing to face an elite quarterback and one of the hottest running backs in the NFL when they visit the Green Bay Packers on Sunday the importance of outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard returning to action shouldn’t be underestimated.

“Having him back is a lot more important than I think a lot of people realize” starting left outside linebacker Paul Kruger said Friday after practice. “He’s an explosive player big-play type of guy. You can’t run on his side. He’s a dominant player. He’s going to be a highly paid guy eventually. He’s one of those guys.”

Sheard sat out the past three games after suffering a sprained left knee while recovering a fumble Sept. 22 against the Minnesota Vikings. He tried to return last week against the Detroit Lions but the Browns (3-3) erred on the side of caution and rested him after he participated in pregame warm-ups.

This weekend should be a different story for Sheard who’ll play with a brace on his left knee. He fully participated in practice throughout the week and insists he’s confident about his health.

“I feel pretty good” said Sheard who’s listed as probable for Sunday. “It hasn’t been an issue.”

“I felt like a fan up in the stands [watching the past three games]. I was a huge fan up there but I’m happy to be back with these guys.”

Sheard’s ability to rush the passer and defend the run could prove to be vital against quarterback Aaron Rodgers and rookie running back Eddie Lacy.

Rodgers who was named Super Bowl Most Valuable Player when the Packers ended the 2010 season by winning the title ranks fifth in the league this season with a passer rating of 101.9.

“I don’t know if I’ve faced one like him before” said Sheard a 2011 second-round draft pick who converted from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker in the offseason. “We played [Denver Broncos star quarterback] Peyton Manning last year. That’s kind of where I see him one of those guys. He knows the coverage. He knows what you’re doing. He makes smart decisions. He always gets rid of the ball and never really gives up a sack.”

Sheard who tallied 15 tackles including 1½ sacks a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in three games this season agrees with defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s assessment of Rodgers.