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Rodgers’ return will come next season with Jets out of playoff hunt and QB not 100% healthy

AP Pro Football Writer

Aaron Rodgers’ quest to make an improbable return this season for the New York Jets appears over.

The 40-year-old quarterback said during his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” on Tuesday he’s not yet 100% healthy in his recovery from a torn left Achilles tendon and is still a few weeks away.

“I’m not going to slow my rehab down,” Rodgers said. “I’m going to keep attacking it every single day. But now without a timetable to come back, obviously we can be as smart as we need to be.”

Rodgers said if the Jets had won last Sunday at Miami and remained in the postseason hunt, he “would have pushed it as far as I could this week” even at less than fully healthy to be ready to play against Washington on Sunday. But the Jets were routed 30-0 and eliminated from the playoff hunt for the 13th straight year.

“If I was 100% today, I’d be definitely pushing to play,” Rodgers said. “But the fact is I’m not.”

Rodgers never firmly said he won’t play this season, but strongly indicated that is the case.

“I think the whole time it’s been, you know, hoping that we’re still in it because it was unrealistic to think that I would be 100% to be medically cleared at any point during the regular season,” Rodgers said. “I do feel like in the next three to four weeks, it would be very possible to get to 100%, but obviously not there.

“And so the conversation was away from 100% medical clearance to a willingness to play. And that’s never been a problem for me.”

The Jets opened the 21-day practice window for Rodgers on Nov. 29 and have until Wednesday to activate him from the injured reserve list. That still remains a possibility, but he would then take a spot on the active 53-man roster. Otherwise, the quarterback will revert to IR for the rest of the season. Rodgers still needs to be medically cleared to fully practice — something that seemed to be a possibility.

He has been participating in individual and 7-on-7 drills while also taking snaps from under center and jogging, but hasn’t yet done 11-on-11 team drills.

Rodgers tore his Achilles tendon just four snaps into his debut with the Jets on Sept. 11, moments after he jogged onto the field while carrying an American flag in front of a jam-packed MetLife Stadium.

“That won’t be the lasting image that you see of me in a Jets uniform,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot more amazing things to come.”

Rodgers added he doesn’t think next season will be his last in the NFL, saying he always wanted to play at least two years for the Jets and this season was “kind of a lost year.”

He said he has full faith in general manager Joe Douglas, coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, and the team needs to “reload” and not “rebuild” during the offseason.

“I think the future is very bright,” Rodgers said. “We’re going to rise again and it’s going to be exciting.”

Rodgers had surgery two days after his injury and was trying to have the fastest return to the playing field from a torn Achilles tendon of any known professional athlete. Wednesday will mark 14 weeks since Rodgers’ surgery, which reportedly included a “speed bridge” — an internal brace on the Achilles tendon — procedure that helps expedite the healing process.

He thinks his comeback can serve as an example for players who suffer a similar injury, which traditionally has taken most about nine months from which to heal.

“I think that there’s hope that if you were to have an injury in the offseason, that it’s not out of the question to be ready for Week 1 and definitely not out of the question to be ready for the season,” Rodgers said. “So hopefully this isn’t looked at as kind of a one-year kind of loss of a year death sentence moving forward.”

NOTES: QB Zach Wilson is in the concussion protocol and his mother Lisa posted in an Instagram story on Monday that her son didn’t immediately tell the team he was feeling symptoms because he wanted to stay in. He was checked early in the game in the medical tent before returning, but was sacked four times and left the game late in the second quarter. “Finally, after one more blow to the head, he really started having problems with blurred vision and his depth perception,” Lisa Wilson said. If Zach Wilson doesn’t clear the concussion protocol this week, Trevor Siemian will start in his place.



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