Rodgers ‘attacking’ rehab, eyes return this season

NFL

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, three weeks removed from surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon, said Tuesday he’s “well ahead of the normal protocols” and still clings to the belief that he can shock the world by returning this season.

“There’s nothing normal about how I’m attacking this rehab,” Rodgers said during his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show.” “The common practice is about six weeks in a boot, and I was in a shoe in 13 days.

“This is just my mindset. I believe in the power of intention. I believe in prayer. I believe in your mental status and the power of will. I believe in making room for the miraculous to happen.”

In addition to the Achilles, Rodgers is dealing with a deltoid “issue,” he revealed. The deltoid is the main ligament on the inner ankle, and that explains why he’s wearing an ankle brace. He didn’t provide any details. Presumably, it occurred when he injured his Achilles.

He surprised many by walking briskly on crutches during the pregame warmups Sunday night at MetLife Stadium, where the Jets faced the Kansas City Chiefs. He will return to his rehab program in California this week before coming back to New Jersey permanently after the Jets’ Week 7 bye.

Asked about playing again this season, Rodgers said is plan it to “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 even being in the conversation. But I don’t think it hurts at all to put that into the manifestation zeitgeist.”

A typical recovery is six to nine months, though medical experts have said it’s possible to return in four to five months. A four-month timetable would take Rodgers into mid-January. The regular season ends Jan. 7.

“I have some things working against me,” he said. “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 any that stuff. I just kind of have been making my own protocols and my own timetables.”

Rodgers said he’s “being as smart as possible” with his rehab, but he wants to push the envelope. His next goal, he said, is to walk without crutches. The surgical technique that was used on his Achilles — a minimally invasive SpeedBridge repair — allows him “to start doing movement quicker and to speed up whatever timeline has been the standard for this type of injury,” he said.

He was back at MetLife Stadium only 20 days after the injury, which happened on the fourth play of the Jets’ season opener.

“To be able to walk back on the field with the little assistance, with the crutches, was pretty special,” he said. “Just to be in the locker room with the guys and talk to them Saturday night [in a meeting], and just feel the energy and the excitement, was everything I needed.”

Before the game, Rodgers chatted with some Chiefs players, including Travis Kelce. Speaking to McAfee, he jokingly referred to Kelce as “Mr. Pfizer,” presumably his way of poking the star tight end for his recent ads promoting Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Rodgers made headlines during the pandemic by saying he didn’t get vaccinated.

Rodgers had another thing he wanted to get off his chest — the fallout from his speech to the team Saturday night at the hotel.

Several players said his message to the team, which had lost two straight at that point, was the importance of sticking together and not fracturing. Rodgers said “one of the more disappointing things about the entire weekend” was that details of his speech had leaked out.

“We need to learn as organization that some things need to be kept in-house, some things need to be — we’ve got to tighten the ship up a little bit,” he said.

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