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QB Aaron Rodgers Is Back at 1 Jets Drive

No. 8 Set to Join the Voluntary Offseason Program


Quarterback Aaron Rodgers' road back to the field began in earnest on Monday when the Jets welcomed players back to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center for Phase 1, Week 1 of the Green and White's voluntary offseason workouts.

After general manager Joe Douglas engineered a trade for the four-time NFL MVP with the Green Bay Packers just before the start of last April's NFL Draft, Rodgers joined his new teammates, ramping up excitement and anticipation ahead of the coming season.

Expectations built to a crescendo on the night of Sept. 11 when the Jets opened the 2023 NFL season at an electric MetLife Stadium against AFC East rival Buffalo. But four offensive plays into the season, Rodgers' crumpled to the turf with what was determined to be a torn Achilles tendon. After an operation to repair the tear, Rodgers went to work, dedicating himself to rehabbing in time to rejoin the team late in the season. But when the Jets fell out of the postseason picture, Rodgers set his sights on being ready for "spring training."

"Aaron, I know he's on a mission," head coach Robert Saleh told reporters at last month's League Meetings in Orlando. "I don't want to speak for him. He's working his tail off in California. He's been communicating with us, I won't say daily, but often. Knowing Aaron, he's on a mission to do a lot of things that he wanted to do last year and he's not going to stop until he gets it done."

Asked if he expected Rodgers to be at 1 Jets Drive for the start of offseason workouts, Saleh said: "I'm anticipating it."

Early Monday morning, Rodgers' strolled into the training center, ready to get to work.

During a recent, wide-ranging appearance on the "I Can Fly Podcast," Rodgers talked about his commitment to the Jets and his hunger to get back on the field.

"I'm excited about playing again, I love playing," Rodgers said. "I fell back in love with the game [after joining the Jets] and then I had it taken away after four plays. I miss being out there, I love competing. … Football is my happy place. That's where I feel most in control of my athletic ability. I missed that last year, I really, really missed it. My heart was broken. I'm excited about taking the field one more time and – not life or death – going to battle with my guys.

"I had this incredible offseason experience [last year] in a new city, in a new town, with new teammates, a new organization, an owner for the first time, and really falling back in love with the game that I first fell in love with when I was 5 years old. And it was absolutely beautiful and special and deep and rich and yummy, and just incredible."

Rodgers, 40, underwent surgery last Sept. 14. and spent the regular season split between California and New Jersey, aggressively rehabbing in hopes of coming back if the team had been in playoff contention. He was added to the team's 53-man roster in December and was able to return to the practice field, working as the "scout" quarterback slinging passes against the Jets' top-rated defense.

After reworking his two-year contract with the Jets last year, Rodgers said he could see playing beyond the coming season.

See Jets players in every combination of the Legacy Collection uniforms.

Saleh said that he expects Rodgers to return to form, using OTAs and this summer's training camp to find his comfort zone.

"I am sure it is going to be a little bit different, just because he is going through the rehab stuff," Saleh said. "Last year he wasn't dealing with an Achilles, so I am sure there is a protocol for it, but I guess that is more of a question for the doctors and Aaron."

Saleh added: "Usually those Achilles injuries ... he is a position player, but the guys who move around a lot, not to say that he doesn't move around or that he is not mobile, because he is plenty mobile enough. But he can get his feet in the ground, he can work with good footwork and good base, and he can release a football. As long as he can do that, he will be fine."

In his 2021 MVP season with the Packers, Rodgers threw 48 TD passes, helping Green Bay to an 80% success rate in the red zone and 49% on third downs. Even in a "down" 2022, Rodgers completed 64.6% of his passes for 3,695 yards with 26 TDs and 12 INTs.

"We got to win football games and no matter how much excitement there is around the organization, no matter how much excitement there is around free agency or the draft, none of it matters," Saleh said. "As I said, just got to keep our heads down and find ways to get better, continue to have a great offseason and when we get to the season, we got to find a way to put Ws in the wins column."

OTAs, which are considered to be Phase 3, Week 1 of the offseason program, and are scheduled to begin on May 20, with offseason activities culminating with the three-day mandatory minicamp the week of June 11.

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