Published by: Bear Acuda
Aaron Rodgers has been cleared to practice
New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers has officially been cleared by the New York Jets to return to practice in a limited manner, as announced by Head Coach Robert Saleh. This marks the beginning of a 21-day practice window for Rodgers where he will not count against the active 53-man roster. Should the Jets upgrade Rodgers to the active roster within the 21 days, he will automatically be placed on IR (injured reserve) for the remainder of the season.
Saleh clarified that Rodgers’ return to practice is more about advancing his rehabilitation than preparing for game play:
“This isn’t so much getting ready to play as much as it is a progression in his rehab. For Aaron, what he’ll be doing in practice is no different than what he’d be doing on [a side field] with regard to certain drills and individuals. Instead of throwing with staff members, he’ll be throwing to teammates. There’s no added risk to it. There are certain things that he’s been cleared for that we’ll allow him to do.”
Rodgers, acquired by the Jets in a late April trade after 18 seasons with the Green Bay Packers, sustained a left Achilles tendon rupture in the season opener against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on September 11. The injury occurred four snaps into the game following a sack by Buffalo’s Leonard Floyd. Rodgers initially stood up before collapsing back onto the field, along with Jets fan’s dreams of a championship.
The four-time NFL MVP underwent surgery on September 14 and was spotted using crutches during the Week 4 Sunday Night Football game against the Chiefs at MetLife Stadium. In the following weeks, Rodgers was seen engaging in light activities with teammates, such as playing catch before the Eagles game and performing minimal dropbacks before his team faced the Chargers in Week 9.
Rodgers shared his proactive approach to rehabilitation:
“This entire time I’ve said what I’d like to do rehab-wise. Neal, my doctor Neal ElAttrache, did kind of a newer, innovative surgery. I asked him if we could push it, if we could push it beyond the normal protocols. I’ve just wanted to do things quicker; smart, but quicker. It’s just about being smart with the rehab and pushing it as much as I can and then backing off on the days that it doesn’t feel good.”
That’s the drumbeat of thousands of New York native hearts beating in adulation.
Recently, there have been some pretty (would’ve seen like absurd) speculations about a mid-December return for Rodgers. The average time for someone to return to full activity following a torn achilles tendon is anywhere from 6-12 months. While he hasn’t specified a return date, the Jets have until December 20 to activate him. By my math, he’d be two months ahead of schedule (at the earliest) if he returned by the closing of the practice window. If they utilize the full practice window, Rodgers’ potential return game could be the Week 16 matchup against the Commanders on Christmas Eve at MetLife Stadium.
And what a Christmas gift to Jets fans that would be.
Saleh emphasized the careful approach for players coming off the injured reserve:
“A lot of guys coming off [injured reserve], they’re not ready to play football. There’s still a little bit of health concern there, so you use these 21-day windows to see where they’re at. We’re still far away from that. Like I said, the mindset from this is more about the progression in his rehab. He’s been cleared for functional football activities, not been cleared to fully play football.”
Still, expect Jets fans to get their hopes up.
The ONLY SCENARIO I see for the Jets bringing Rodgers back is if they manage to position themselves to make the one of the Wild Card games in this year’s NFL Playoffs. At 4-7 right now, they have a snowball’s chance in hell to make it into the playoffs. I have a better chance of scoring a date withKate Beckinsale, or being the lead guitarist for the Mannheim Steamroller’s upcoming Christmas tour. We can still dream, can’t we?
Rodgers, a Packer from 2005 to 2022, is renowned for his passing prowess, with the highest TD-to-INT ratio (4.52) and the second-best passer rating (103.6) in NFL history. Reuniting with Nathaniel Hackett (his former offensive coordinator in Green Bay from 2019 to 2021), Jets fans fantasized about Rodgers being their savior; a return to glory accompanied by trophies and Joe Namath sugarplums dancing in their heads. During Hackett’s tenure, Rodgers averaged 4,139 passing yards per season, accumulating 111 touchdowns and 13 interceptions across 48 games. He also recorded his two highest completion percentages for a season in 2020 (70.7%) and 2021 (68.9%).
Crazier things have happened than the Jets making the playoffs, so I guess anything is possible. Still, if I were a betting man (which I am), I would be trying to sell my Browns/Jets tickets on StubHub to clear up my Christmas Eve, as the Jets will only be playing for draft position and not the playoffs.
So, I’ll pose this question to the Bleacher Creatures out there:
Does Zak Wilson deserve a lump of coal in his stocking this Christmas?
Answer in the comment section below, or follow us on Twitter: @BleacherBrother