Sunday, September 24 2023

Aaron Rodgers could be back fully practicing with the New York Jets on Friday after straining his right calf last week.

The 39-year-old quarterback, acquired last month from Green Bay, was injured while participating in conditioning drills last Tuesday. Rodgers downplayed the injury at the time but hasn’t been a full participant in practice since.

“He’s fine,” coach Robert Saleh said Wednesday. “He’s just doing a bunch of rehab.”

Saleh added the team hopes Rodgers will fully participate by Friday — or next week at the latest.

“I still argue that he’s still a young man, the way he takes care of his body,” Saleh said. “His body is not his age.”

Rodgers wore a sleeve on his calf throughout the practice and was limited, as Saleh said he would. He began the session riding a stationary bike and threw some passes on the side — including a few tight-spiraled tosses of more than 40 yards — but was otherwise mainly a spectator.

He often chatted with the other quarterbacks, including Zach Wilson, who has been working with the starting offense. Rodgers also took aside some receivers after one drill to offer some pointers.


“I’ve been around some really good quarterbacks,” said left tackle Duane Brown, entering his 16th NFL season. “Just the command he has with everything, it’s different.”

Rodgers will frequently point things out in meetings and quiz teammates to make sure they understand the nuances of the offense, which is being installed by coordinator Nathaniel Hackett — who was in the same role in Green Bay during the last two of the quarterback’s four NFL MVP awards in 2020 and 2021.

“You feel that sense of calm, but you also know you’ve got to be on your stuff because he expects you to be in this spot because you know he’s going to get you the ball if you’re in the right place,” second-year running back Breece Hall said.

Rodgers has also provided value to the Jets’ defense, which once had to face him but now has the benefit of learning from him.

“His impact on this team, especially these younger players, is going to be felt for the remainder of all their careers,” defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. “To see a guy, not just the talent that he has, but the preparation and the process. … Yeah, he’s going to change the course of these young players’ careers forever.”

New York acquired Rodgers, the No. 15 overall pick and a fifth-rounder in this year’s draft from Green Bay on April 26. In exchange, the Packers got the 13th overall selection, a second-rounder, a sixth-rounder and a conditional 2024 second-round pick that could become a first-rounder if Rodgers plays 65% of New York’s plays this season.

Rodgers has been attending the Jets’ voluntary practices this offseason, something he hadn’t done the past few years in Green Bay. In New York, he wants to get to know his new teammates and help Hackett install the offense.

Rodgers has also been busy embracing his new home city, taking in Knicks and Rangers playoff games with some teammates, and attending two of Taylor Swift’s three concerts at MetLife Stadium last weekend.

“I don’t know how long you all have been at your jobs, but can you imagine being somewhere for 18 years and then going somewhere else — something different, new environment, new people, a different situation?” said wide receiver Randall Cobb, a longtime teammate of Rodgers in Green Bay. “It sparks something different in you.

“I think you can definitely see that on his face, just the way he goes about things. He’s still the same him, but at the same time, he’s learning new people and learning a new environment. And I think that freshness brings something different.”

NOTES: Saleh said the Jets are “very optimistic” Hall will be healthy in time for the regular-season opener on Sept. 11 against Buffalo. He tore the ACL in his left knee last October, ending what was shaping up to be a terrific rookie season. “He looks freaking good,” Saleh said. … Saleh appeared to indicate the Jets wouldn’t explore adding free agent WR DeAndre Hopkins, who was released by Arizona last Friday. “We love our current group,” the coach said.

Reporting by The Associated Press.


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