For the first time since tearing an Achilles tendon, New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers revealed a vague timeline for when he hopes to return, hinting Tuesday that he could be back on the field in six weeks.
“It’ll be a few fortnights,” Rodgers said during his weekly spot on “The Pat McAfee Show.”
Rodgers, eight weeks removed from surgery, sparked speculation about his return Monday night after the Jets’ 27-6 home loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. During the postgame handshakes, he told Chargers safety Derwin James that he intends to play in “a few weeks.” His comment was caught on camera, and the video went viral.
A day later, Rodgers attempted to downplay his remark, saying he was joking with James, whom he knows well because they’re represented by the same agency.
“Obviously, that was said with a little tongue-in-cheek there,” Rodgers said. “It’d be nice to be able to be back in a couple of weeks. That’s probably not anywhere near a realistic timeline.”
Pressed, Rodgers dropped the “fortnights” line. For those not familiar with English that old, a fortnight is two weeks. A six-week return would take him to Christmas week; the Jets host the Washington Commanders on Dec. 24.
For an NFL player, it would be an unprecedented return from an Achilles injury. Rodgers, 39, has said repeatedly that his goal is to play again this season. Before the game, he wowed onlookers by throwing 55-yard passes to a team staffer, showing he can use his legs to step into long passes. He also did crossover steps for the first time.
Coach Robert Saleh declined to comment on whether Rodgers has shared a projected timeline with him, saying Tuesday, “I’m not going to say anything that he’s told me, but I do know if he’s working really hard to get back here.”
This wouldn’t be a unilateral decision by Rodgers. He’d have to be cleared by doctors, and the Jets would have to sign off — a huge, risk-reward choice.
Rodgers, who has insisted throughout the process that he doesn’t have a specific timetable, mentioned for the first time the idea of returning to practice at some point.
“We’re still a little ways off,” he said. “I’ve got to hit markers, and I’ve got to get on the practice field. Then they have to open up the window for me to come back from it. So, there’s a lot that has to happen. I’m not saying it can’t get accelerated, but there’s still a lot of things I’ve got to do before we can even talk about getting on the field.”
Rodgers said he’s entering the “danger zone” in his recovery. The eight- to 12-week period he is in now is considered the final healing stage for the tendon. If he pushes too hard, he could risk a setback. He has been walking without crutches for about a month, although he’s still not jogging.
The Jets (4-4) would have to be playoff contenders, he said, for him to play again this season. Without Rodgers, the offense is struggling mightily, having scored only eight touchdowns. Backup Zach Wilson is coming off one of his worst games.
“Obviously, we’ve got to be in the mix, there’s no doubt about it,” said Rodgers, expressing confidence the team can remain in the hunt. “But more than that, I’ve got to be able to be healthy, to be able to move, to be able to protect myself, to be able to have strength in all the throws.”