Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers during a game against the Giants at...

Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers during a game against the Giants at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023. Credit: Errol Anderson

Aaron Rodgers said he was “ahead of schedule” in his already accelerated recovery from a torn Achilles, but stressed that a lot of things need to go right for him to make his return this season – including having the Jets stay relevant long enough for his contributions to matter.

Speaking during his weekly segment on "The Pat McAfee Show" Tuesday, Rodgers said that while he’s still not jogging, he’s now walking normally and can put weight on the injured leg. He’s also able to take some dropbacks, transfer his weight, “do high-percentage body weight walking” and calf raises; additionally, he’s fully out of his walking boot less than seven weeks removed from the surgery and has moved on to a specialized shoe.

“The goal is to come back – the goal is to be able to have that conversation,” he said, reiterating his previous stance. “We’re just progressing. It’s really good. There’s still a long way to go and a lot of things have to happen. We obviously have to be still alive, but I love the vibe on the team. I’m proud of our guys.”

Rodgers praised the Jets for their ugly but effective win against the Giants last weekend – something that improved them to 4-3 – particularly as they navigated an injury-ravaged offensive line that hasn’t been given much opportunity to jell. 

Coach Robert Saleh spoke about that challenge Monday.

 “It’s a shame [that] the five o-linemen that have started for us are on IR now, but it’s just like every other team,” Saleh said. “There is no feeling sorry for yourself...We feel good about the five guys we have every time we step on the field. It’s just a matter of them getting an opportunity to work together and find that cohesion that we’re looking for.”

Rodgers, though, commended Saleh for keeping the Jets steady despite chaotic conditions, and for creating a locker room culture that he thinks could be a difference maker as this team tries to climb from the wreckage of their starting quarterback’s Week 1 injury. 

“There’s a real tight-knit bond on the team, especially with some of the older guys who have been around for a long time and have been to other places,” Rodgers said. “You feel how special the vibe is that we have – the connection with the guys and I’m thankful for that. It’s fun to be back. Where I’m at in the locker room, I get to spend time with some of the older vets and the D-linemen are in my corner… It’s an environment where it really feels like a family. I give Coach Saleh and [general manager] Joe Douglas [credit] and the freedom that Woody [Johnson] allows for all those people to be around.”

Rodgers, who told Newsday on Monday that he spoke to Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins about his recently torn Achilles, said he hopes the internal bracing technique performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache continues to revolutionize recovery from an injury previously considered a career ender. (Saleh confirmed Monday that Jets defensive lineman Al Woods also has a torn Achilles, which will end his season.)

“I think it’s going to be more mainstream in the future,” Rodgers said.

Still, plenty remains unknown, and Rodgers said he won’t return if he’s going to be a liability.

“I need to be able to move otherwise, why the hell would I come back?” he said. “I need to be able to play from under center and get to an outside zone handoff and get to a keeper and be able to move in the pocket, otherwise, I’m not doing myself, my career, or any of us any favors.”

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