Aaron Rodgers is close to returning to the practice field, but one of the main determining factors in whether he plays again this season remains if the Jets are in the playoff race.
It’s not looking good.
“It’s health, first,” Rodgers said. “And then can I play, are we alive for the playoffs, second.”
Rodgers gave additional details on potentially returning from a torn left Achilles tendon during his weekly spot on “The Pat McAfee Show” on Tuesday. But if the Jets being in the playoff hunt truly is one, Rodgers’ season might be over.
The Jets are 4-7 and have lost four in a row and are near the bottom of the AFC standings. That’s not stopping Rodgers from continuing his mission of trying to return from a torn Achilles in under four months.
Rodgers first has to be cleared to practice, which could happen soon.
“Excited about tomorrow and hopefully getting back on the practice field,” Rodgers said, without a follow-up question being asked.
Rodgers, who got injured four snaps into Week 1, is back with the Jets full-time now and rehabbing at their facility. He said the next steps are doing some individual work at practice throwing the football to receivers and seeing how he feels after that. That might be the final hurdle for the Jets to open the 21-day window for Rodgers to be activated.
“There’s a natural progression here to the rehab,” Rodgers said. “That’s going to involve actually getting back on to the field to start to do some things that are more football related. We’re still, we’re not where I can make a decision on playing because health-wise I’m improving steadily but I’m not at an ability to play at this point.”
Rodgers is still wearing special shoes to help the Achilles and calf, but he might be ready to “transition” out of them.
He said he tried some “stuff on the field” on Tuesday to see how his foot feels “in different types of shoes.” Rodgers is jogging on the AlterG machine at about 70% of his bodyweight. He’s hoping to increase that.
“I’m feeling strong,” Rodgers said. “We’re at 11 weeks tomorrow since surgery. We said that 8-to-12 weeks is when a lot of the healing of the actual Achilles finalizes. I’ve been ahead for the most part with the rehab. I’m excited about what’s next and how this thing keeps getting better.”
Rodgers is doing everything he can to make the doctors and Jets officials have a conversation about him returning. The elephant in the room is the Jets’ play. A home loss this week to the Falcons might end all hope.
“I think it’s always been first, am I healthy and then are we alive, are we in it, are we playing good enough to make a run?” Rodgers said.
“Once I’m healthy, then it’s where we’re at. Are we alive? Are we in it? Can I help the team, not hurt the team, by being back out there? Can I protect myself? Can I move around and do the things that I want to do? If the answer is yes then we’ll move in that direction. If the answer is no then I’ve got to listen to my body.”
Rodgers being around the team could give the Jets a boost. Some players have spoken about seeing how hard he’s rehabbing is inspiring them.
Garrett Wilson, during his weekly segment on “The Bart and Hahn Show” on ESPN Radio, called it “valuable” and “priceless” to have Rodgers back around the team. Wilson said he wants Rodgers to be “a thousand percent ready” before he tries to play.
“If he does by chance get out there, I’m sure it will have the effect that Aaron Rodgers being out on the field with you has,” Wilson said. “I’m sure it'll be that. He’s truly special. That would be awesome.”
There is significance for Rodgers to be doing something in practice this week. He turns 40 on Saturday and wants to be on the field.
“Just thankful to have something to look forward to every day and that’s the rehab and getting better and doing something special,” Rodgers said. “Whether or not I come back this year, there’s been a lot of lessons and a lot of things in the midst of some really frustrating and sad times.”