Return talk a ‘moot point’ until QB gets cleared by doctors

Here are the latest news updates and possible return date for Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers

Nov. 20, 4:12 p.m.

Robert Saleh called Aaron Rodgers’ reported plans to return to the practice field on Dec. 2 ahead of a return to the field that month a “moot point” until the 39-year-old quarterback is given clearance by doctors.

“I’ll be honest, I’m talking to Aaron all the time just about life and football and all that good stuff, but until he’s cleared by doctors, guys, all of it’s a moot point and I haven’t gotten any indication otherwise,” the head coach told reporters at his Monday afternoon news conference.

“I love that he’s working hard, I think it shows the type of character he is,” Saleh continued. “I’ve said it before, I mean, he is relentlessly, relentlessly trying to get back to this football team as quickly as he can.

“Does he have personal goals? Sure. Does he have his eyes set on certain weeks? Sure. But, all of it’s a moot point until he’s cleared by doctors.”

Nov. 19, 10:40 a.m.

Aaron Rodgers is eyeing a mid-December return as he noted on the Pat McAfee Show earlier in the week and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport’s understanding of the situation after talking to several people involved is that the most likely return date for the QB is Dec. 24 for a Week 16 matchup with the Washington Commanders.

Rapoport also believes that Rodgers would only return “if he could protect himself and if the Jets are still in the playoff hunt,” noting that the 39-year-old would be more stationary rather than running outside of the pocket like he normally does.

Nov. 15, 11:21 a.m.

Head coach Robert Saleh spoke to members of the media on Wednesday and was again asked about Aaron Rodgers‘ possible return to the field this season after the quarterback said on Tuesday that he expects to be back with the team “full time” by Thanksgiving.

Rodgers has been adamant about playing again this season ever since he got injured, but Saleh was asked if the decision to start his soon-to-be 40-year-old QB this season would be as simple as his doctors have cleared him.

“Aaron’s a big boy. [He’s a] grown man. No one’s gonna know Aaron’s body like Aaron knows his body. And if he feels after all the doctors clear him, and I’m sure there’s a million of them, I have no idea on that stuff, but if Aaron says he wants to play, he’s gonna play,” Saleh said.

Asked if there’s pressure for the Jets, now 4-5, to keep the season afloat before Rodgers comes back, Saleh said, “Pressure’s to keep it afloat just to keep it afloat. Pressure to go to the playoffs is always pressure, it’s not for any one individual, it’s not for any possibility. It’s because we’re competitors and we want to win football games, and I think Aaron is just icing on the cake.”

Nov. 14, 3:15 p.m.

Aaron Rodgers made his weekly appearance on the Pat McAfee Show on Tuesday and gave an update on when he expects to be back with the Jets on a full-time basis.

“I’m going to be back [with the Jets] real soon,” Rodgers said. “That’s always been the plan. The plan was, once we got to Thanksgiving, was to be back there full time.”

The report by NBC’s Melissa Stark that Rodgers was aiming for a mid-December return to play was not denied by the quarterback, but he said she based her report on information from his doctor and not him. However, the timeline has not changed.

Rodgers did add that how his rehab is going and where the Jets are in the playoff picture will affect when he can or should return.

“There’s no set date. I mean, it could change if I have a great week this week and next week; that could be accelerated. If we’re not in it in three or four weeks, that could take it a different way,” Rodgers explained. “But I expect us to be in it and I expect to come back. So that’s about all I can tell you at this point.”

Nov. 12, 9:20 p.m.

We know Aaron Rodgers has been ahead of schedule in his recovery from an Achilles injury suffered in Week 1, and now we have his target for a return to the field.

The star quarterback told NBC’s Melissa Stark this week that he’s hoping to be back with the team in mid-December for a potential playoff push.

“I know it sounds insane, but if you do a good surgery and have a good patient, it makes this possible,” Rodgers told Stark.

If he is able to pull the miraculous return off as planned, that would put Rodgers back under center just over three months after suffering the injury.

Oct. 31, 5:05 p.m.

The NFL trade deadline came and went, and the Jets didn’t make a move for a quarterback for the stretch run. Does that mean Gang Green is expecting Aaron Rodgers to return from his Achilles injury sooner than expected?

“I’m not going to put words into Aaron’s mouth. We’re excited to see him progress through his rehab. We’re taking everything day by day,” Jets GM Joe Douglas said Tuesday after the 4 p.m. trade deadline. “Certainly we’ll all be excited when he’s back in the fold, just as a person and the leader that he is. I’m not a doctor so I can’t go into the specifics of the rehab, but we’re expecting him to be back.”

Douglas was asked a follow-up on his “we’re expecting him back” comment, and the GM clarified saying, “[We’re expecting him back] with the team. I have no timeline. I’m not an expert, I’m not a doctor it’s just good having him around. When he’s around the team, it’s good to have him in the building.”

“I’m not putting anything out there like that,” Douglas added. “That’s not my place…I don’t have any breaking news for you like that.”

Douglas was also asked whether he’s surprised by Rodgers’ progress and seeing him throw the ball on the field pre-game (just as he did this Sunday before the Giants game) less than two months after his Week 1 injury.

“Everything I’ve heard, to see him doing some of the things he’s doing… It’s not surprising,” he said. “We know the competitive makeup Aaron has. He has goals and he’s going to chase those goals and use every ounce of energy to achieve those goals. So nothing surprises me when it comes to Aaron Rodgers.”

Oct. 29, 11:29 a.m.

Just as he did a couple of weeks ago prior to the Eagles game, Rodgers was back on the MetLife Stadium turf prior to the Jets’ matchup with the Giants.

Standing near midfield, Rodgers was seen throwing a few passes, and perhaps most importantly, he appeared to be comfortable transferring weight from his right leg to his left leg.

Rodgers still has plenty of benchmarks to hit before he can make his return, but throwing on the field once again was certainly another step in the right direction.

Oct. 23, 9:20 p.m.

Aaron Rodgers, who has been wowing people with the apparent pace of his recovery from surgery to repair a torn Achilles, reiterated Monday that his goal is to return to the field this season.

“I’ve had a couple of injuries over the years and I think for me you always have to set a goal, otherwise you go kinda crazy,” Rodgers said on ESPN’s ManningCast broadcast of Monday Night Football.

“And so the goal is to definitely come back. There’s a lot of factors that go into that,” he said. “I gotta get to a point where I can protect myself and do what I do.”

Rodgers sustained the injury four plays into his debut with the Jets on Sept. 11 and underwent surgery on Sept. 13. It was believed to be a season-ending injury, but the 39-year-old has been raising eyebrows by walking without the aid of crutches after just a handful of weeks and throwing on the field ahead of the Jets’ game on Oct. 15.

“To me, throwing on the field was just a way to feel normal,” Rodgers said on the ManningCast. “You know when you’re away from the team and you’re separated being on the injured reserve list, anything you can do to make it feel like you’re kinda a part of it. Whether that’s Zooming into a meeting or conversations before the game or little details knowing you went against this coordinator and you remember some of the things you liked.

“For me, it was just kinda getting back out there and messing around in pregame warmups being able to walk out there without crutches and throw the ball around a little bit. So that gave me a jolt, and I’m just having a mindset with my rehab every day to hopefully come back at some point.”

Oct. 17, 2:35 p.m.

It’s completely fair for Jets fans to get excited every time they see Rodgers appear to take a step forward toward a return to the field. The latest example came on Sunday, when Rodgers was seen throwing on the field prior to the win over the Eagles.

And while even his head coach “wouldn’t put anything past him” in terms of potentially returning this season, Rodgers tempered expectations a bit during his weekly spot on “The Pat McAfee Show,” saying “let’s just cool our jets a little bit” when asked about getting close to a return.

The good news, though, is that Rodgers admitted he is indeed ahead of schedule.

“There are just markers,” Rodgers said. “You saw me walk without crutches and throw on the field. Another marker is going to be jogging and then another marker is going to be going through a pregame workout, probably, and getting on the practice field. And all of these are going to take time. … There are critical markers that I have to hit as far as single leg strength and being able to do heel raises and being able to do explosive movements, and these are all progressions that take time.

“Obviously, we’re ahead of schedule. There are a lot of factors to that. There’s the way that I’ve attacked the rehab, there’s obviously the surgery that Dr. ElAttrache did, there’s the rehab that I’ve done and kind of the around-the-clock approach that I’ve had, there’s implementing the diet that I’ve been doing as well, and then just the power of the mind and the power of manifestation of the desires.”

Wednesday will mark exactly five weeks since Rodgers underwent what he called a “newer, innovative surgery,” and while he’s feeling “great,” he does want to make sure he doesn’t push the envelope too far too quickly.

“I’ve just wanted to do things quicker. Smart, but quicker,” said Rodgers. “The most important thing is you just don’t want to stretch the Achilles. Stress, okay, stretch, not okay. So, 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 I don’t feel great.

“I’ve felt great. … I had just a little bit of a limp. I’m not quite walking perfectly normal, but throwing feels great. We’ve been doing a lot of different stuff here in the rehab gym around weight transfer and movement, just in a smaller area. Mostly just transferring weight from a right foot to a left foot, left foot to the right foot. … Again, it just felt a little bit more normal.”

So while there is still a chance that Rodgers can make an improbable return to the field this season, he says that there are many more markers for him to hit, which makes putting any kind of timetable on his return futile.

“I’m not going to put a timetable on it, specifically,” he said. “That makes absolutely no sense.”

Oct. 17, 11:08 a.m.

The Jets are off for the rest of the week as they enjoy their Week 7 bye after a hard-fought win over the Eagles, but head coach Robert Saleh provided an Aaron Rodgers update before his break officially began.

Joining NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” on Tuesday, Saleh explained that Rodgers is “on a mission,” and that the 39-year-old QB is already doing some very advanced things for this stage of his recovery.

“I’ve coached Richard Sherman, who was coming off his Achilles. I’ve got friends who have had Achilles injuries, and what he’s doing, according to them, is absolutely ridiculous,” Saleh said. “For him to be walking already, I wouldn’t put anything past him. He is a big believer in manifestation; you are who you think you are, and you become what you think about. He is willing himself to return faster than what you’re supposed to be.

“I think he’s fueled by doubt — I don’t think, I know — he’s fueled by doubt. The more you doubt him, the more fuel he has. He’s on a mission. There’s one thing I’ve learned about him, in my very short time with him, is that when he’s got something on his mind and he wants to prove something, he’s going to prove it. So, a lot of people can doubt him, but I’m not doubting him. We’re leaving the door open for him but it’s amazing to see how hard he’s been working and the intent at which he’s been doing it.”

Oct. 15, 9:45 p.m.

Rodgers, just five weeks from suffering what was believed to be a season-ending injury, watched Sunday’s win on the sideline. Head coach Robert Saleh called the 39-year-old quarterback’s recovery so far “unbelievable.”

“A lot of people I’ve talked to Iike, I won’t name names who have also had this, everyone is in awe that he’s even walking,” he said. “And for him to be on the sideline, standing the entire time, he’s a freakazoid.”

The head coach did not say if Rodgers had to clear it with anybody to be able to be on the sideline and that the decision was all the veteran quarterback’s doing.

“He said he wants to be on the sideline, he’s gonna be on the sideline,” Saleh said.

Oct. 15, 2:30 p.m.

Aaron Rodgers’ historically quick road to recovery continues.

The quarterback was again seen arriving at MetLife Stadium without the use of crutches prior to Sunday’s Week 6 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Rodgers was then spotted throwing passes to Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner on the field pregame not even five weeks since undergoing Achilles surgery.

The 39-year-old has expressed a desire to return by the end of the season and head coach Robert Saleh has said if anyone can do it, it would be Rodgers, but it’s still a tall task ahead.

Oct. 13, 7:35 p.m.

Regardless of whether or not Aaron Rodgers returns before the end of the season, the Jets quarterback does appear to be making good progress in his recovery from Achilles surgery.

In the latest installment of “One Jets Drive,” Rodgers is seen in the locker room prior to their game against the Kansas City Chiefs walking without the use of crutches – just three weeks after his initial surgery.

The 39-year-old still had a little bit of a limp in his walk, and when he ditched the crutches a team official told him to be careful, to which Rodgers replied, “chill out. Let me just do my thing, OK?”

The quarterback hung out by his locker and would get up and walk a bit to show off his progress in front of some teammates and Jets staff.

Rodgers has expressed a desire to return by the end of the season and head coach Robert Saleh has said if anyone can do it, it would be Rodgers, but it is still a tall task ahead.

Oct. 6, 12:15 p.m.

Jets head coach Robert Saleh, when asked about Rodgers’ potential this season, said that he “wouldn’t put anything past him.”

“I think he gets stronger when people say, ‘You can’t,'” Saleh said. “When people doubt him, I think he’s the type of guy that gets stronger. I think that’s why I like him so much — because when someone tells me I can’t do something, well, watch me. And it’s the same thing (with Rodgers). He’s got that mindset where, if someone tells him he’s not capable or something’s impossible, he’s like, ‘You’ll see.’ And so, no, I don’t put it past him.”

The question came on the heels of Rodgers saying on The Pat McAfee Show this week that he was “not going to put any timetables” on his possible comeback while still maintaining a “long-term goal” and that he would “see where we’re at in a couple months.”

“For the peace of mind, I think you’ve got to have some sort of long-term goal like (coming back this season),” Rodgers said. “Otherwise, the rehab becomes much more laborious and monotonous. I think that it’s important to have those long-term goals. Basically, whatever protocol’s out there — and there’s kind of a blanket six-to-12 months recovery time. I have some things working against me — I’m 39 years old. I’m the oldest player in the league. A lot of people have a really hard time coming back from this.

“However, I haven’t really paid any attention to that stuff. I just kind of have been making my own protocols and my own timetables — and, obviously, with the blessing of (Dr.) Neil (ElAttrache) and … everybody in my rehab place … and everybody at the Jets, it’s been saying, ‘Listen, this is what I want to do. Let me know the risks and let me know what I need to do from a muscle standpoint, which ones need to be firing the right way, in order for these things to happen and let’s attack this rehab as hard as we can and then see where we’re at in a couple months.’

“And, obviously, I’d like us to be alive and winning for that to even be in the conversation. But I don’t think it hurts at all to put that into the manifestations. And with all the modalities that we’re doing, I feel like we’re going to put ourselves in a position to make a decision at some point.”

As Rodgers referenced, the Jets — led by quarterback Zach Wilson — would likely need to be alive in the postseason for that.

“I’m just worried about this (game),” Saleh said with a laugh. “If that problem (of deciding between Rodgers and Zach Wilson) shows up, we’ll all be very happy.”

Rodgers revealed this week on his segment with McAfee that the Achilles is “just tight” and “not painful.”

“I went to the best surgeon in the country, so he did a fantastic surgery and has assured me, many times, I’m not going to rip that thing unless I do a number of calf stretches,” Rodgers said. “… But it’s not painful. It’s just a little stiff, for sure. Takes a little bit, in the first part of rehab, to kind of get that thing going. But I’ve got a great (team), great people on the West Coast of phenomenal people out here at the (rehab) facility.

“So, a lot of rehabs in my future and I look forward to the next goal — which, hopefully, I’ll be able to accomplish in a couple weeks.”

He also updated his recovery status following his return to MetLife Stadium for the Jets’ 23-20 Week 4 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football.

“No setbacks from the other night,” he said. “The first goal was really to be upright, to be out of a boot and to do some semblance of walking by the time I got back. I had this game circled on my schedule. I couldn’t fly until I got cleared again last week with no blood clots. Coming to the Sunday night game was always on the agenda, and that was the goal, so definitely met that one. Now, the next goal is to be able to walk without crutches.

“It’s pretty obvious — I’m well ahead of the normal protocols, when it comes to normal rehab for this kind of thing, but that was always what my mindset was … not adhering to those, being as smart as possible not trying to stretch the Achilles but stretch the Achilles in a way that allows me to start doing movement quicker and to just speed up whatever timeline has kind of been the standard for this type of injury.”

Oct. 1, 11:12 a.m.

For the first time since undergoing Achilles surgery, Rodgers rejoined his teammates on Saturday night, according to Dianna Russini of The Athletic.

Cleared by doctors to travel, Rodgers spoke at the Jets’ team meeting on Saturday night, “imploring them repeatedly not to point fingers during their rough start.”

Rodgers is expected to be at MetLife Stadium for Sunday night’s game against the Chiefs.

Sept. 29, 8:54 a.m.

Rodgers is planning to attend Sunday night’s Jets-Chiefs game at MetLife Stadium if he is cleared by doctors, per multiple reports.

If Rodgers is in attendance, it will be his first time at a game since suffering his Achilles injury in Week 1.

Rodgers was seen on crutches on Thursday, and will almost certainly be sitting in a box if he attends the game.

His plan has been to return to the sideline when he is mobile enough to get out of the way of plays that spill out of bounds.

Sept. 26, 2:36 p.m.

During his weekly spot on The Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers discussed the early stages of his rehab process.

“There’s been some good days and some bad days for sure, but last week was a good week of recovery and had a good day yesterday,” he said. “Sunday was the lightest day since I started rehab and also the worst day I’ve had in a while, but yesterday was a good day, today was a good day, making a lot of progress. Every day it’s something, a little less swelling, a little more movement, a little more mobility, a little more strength, so we’re building it up. It’s just a process.”

Rodgers could only watch as the Jets fell to 1-2 with their 15-10 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday, saying that he missed being on the field with his teammates.

“It sucks not being there,” he said. “It’s tough. It’s really hard. I miss the guys. I miss the leadership opportunities. I miss balling, competing.”

The veteran QB also explained that he’ll likely head back to the New York area once he is able to walk on his surgically repaired Achilles, which typically comes about six weeks after surgery with the help of a walking boot.

Sept. 22, 3:06 p.m.

Rodgers opened up about his recovery from a torn left Achilles tendon, telling The Pat McAfee Show that he is “getting after the rehab this week” and setting goals.

“I’m actually in rehab right now,” Rodgers said. “You can see behind me — I’ve got my machines and s–t. I’m just getting after the rehab this week. It’s been — you know, it’s tough. It’s tough. Every single day is tough, not to be with the guys. Even when they check in or hear from coaches, whatever — it’s great, but it’s also disappointing not to be out there. But I’m just grinding on the rehab in here, looking forward to getting back out to Jersey at some point.”

Rodgers underwent surgery last week.

“It’s been great,” Rodgers said. “I’ve had so many people checking in on me. Again, just countless number of text messages and calls and FaceTimes — obviously, because I’m back in California. … I’ve got some people that have been staying with me that have been just fantastic. I’ve got my chef cooking up some incredible meals. So I’m well taken care of. I’d usually like to be the one taking care of people, so this is a time for me to just kind of sit and receive and try and find some joy in the process.

“It’s tough, though, it’s tough. It’s not easy, but there’s been some progressions with the rehab the last couple days that kind of gets the hope meter kind of trending upwards a little bit, the joy meter trending up a little bit.”

While Rodgers has hinted at a return and said last week that he is ready to “shock some people,” the 39-year-old did not put a timetable on his process.

“These type of injuries can take a lot of time — it can be 6-to-8, 12 months,” Rodgers said. “There’s been a few guys who have come back at four-and-a-half (months) — I think (running back) Cam Akers came back at four-and-a-half (months with the Los Angeles Rams in 2021), a couple guys at five months. So I don’t want to get caught into a timeline. I just want to get healthy, honestly — mentally and physically, honestly.

“But I’m going to do everything that I can, rehab-wise, to put myself in a position to be ready to play football again at some point. And that’s the goal. I mean, obviously, when this happened, there’s a lot of thoughts about, like, ‘Is that it? Do you just cash it in? You’re done?’ I just don’t feel like I am. So I’m going to put myself in a position to be able to play again and then it’ll be when that is.”

Earlier in the day, Robert Saleh told reporters that he hoped for Rodgers’ return to New Jersey soon.

“There’s definitely some goals,” Rodgers said. “The first goal was to get out of the cast, second goal would be to get out of the boot, which would coincide with walking, and then walking leads to movement, faster movement, and then ultimately some sort of running at some point. But yeah, we’re trying to — trying to get out of the boot is kind of the next goal.

“So when I feel the strength to be able to stand up on my own, and that’s involved with walking, then the boot comes off and then it kind of gets exciting I think — because then you feel like you’re not just a big turd laying around, everybody taking care of you. So that’ll be nice.”

Until then, Rodgers remains in constant contact with the Jets from the coaching staff to the players.

“Yeah, I’d like to be able to walk,” Rodgers said. “So whenever I can walk, then I’ll probably be back in Jersey. I miss the guys and, obviously, every single day, I’m checking in with Zach (Wilson) and (Nathaniel) Hackett and Todd (Downing) and … whoever hits me up. And guys have been great keeping in touch with me.

“But I miss the guys. It’s hard to be away from ’em. And we got a couple home games in a row — New England this weekend and then Kansas City — so hopefully I’ll be able to get back there at some point, but I’d like to be walking before I get back.”

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