A potential Aaron Rodgers return begins today.
Head coach Robert Saleh announced on Wednesday that the New York Jets will open the 21-day practice window for the four-time MVP quarterback.
Rogers will be limited in practices, reducing the risk of re-injury. Saleh noted that the QB is cleared for functional activity but not contact.
"This isn't so much getting ready to play as much as it is a progression in his rehab," Saleh told reporters. "I can't get into all the detail in regards to IR designations and where we stand and why we are able to do this. But for Aaron, what he will be doing in practice is no different than what he would be doing in Field Three -- as you all watch it. In regards to certain drills, individuals, being able to throw it instead of staff members it's teammates. So, there's no added risk to it. There's certain things that he's been cleared that we are going to allow him to do."
Added Saleh: "Aaron is not going to do anything to put himself in harm's way."
Rodgers suffered an Achilles tear on the third offensive play of the season, setting up the Jets 2023 roller-coaster ride.
Considering Rodgers turns 40 on Saturday, it's a remarkable recovery timetable as he returns to the practice field just 79 days after suffering the injury. NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported in mid-September that Rodgers had a "speed bridge" placed on his torn Achilles, which would speed up the recuperation process.
"I think it's sooner than everybody did. I think it's a credit to him," Saleh said about Rodgers' recovery. "I know we are getting caught up in trying to create a narrative around it. The true narrative is that he's old school in a sense that's he is driven. Is there a motivation to be the first to ever do it? Sure. That's OK. That's his why. It's better than a lot of -- it's a mentality I think young guys should grasp to. He loves this organization. He wants to be with his teammates. He wants to be here. He's sacrificed so much already for the organization, himself and his teammates. He's doing it again. I think it's a testament to who he is as a human.
"Yeah, obviously there's a little bit of that drive. He wants to prove that he can be done faster than anyone else has done it before. That's OK. That's part of his mental makeup. I think he still runs with a chip on his shoulder and that's the way he lives his life. He always wants to prove people wrong in terms of doubting him. He's a special human. I think his actions so how much he appreciates I think the organization and everything around it."
Opening the 21-day window for Rodgers allows the QB to get on the practice field but does not necessarily mean he will return to game action this season. The star QB himself noted Tuesday on The Pat McAfee Show that any return would depend on his health and if the Jets are in playoff contention.
"I think the step is just getting back onto the field and doing some more real football things," Rodgers said Tuesday on ESPN. "Throw to my teammates and go through some individual part of practice. I think will be kind of the next step to see what my lateral movement is like, and after going through some of these more football-related moves, how do I respond? How does my leg respond to that?"
The Jets will get their first chance to see how that leg responds on Wednesday.
A lot must happen for Rodgers to return in 2023, but Wednesday's news is a significant first step.