Sources – Possibility for Aaron Rodgers to return this season

It’s “not out of the question” that Aaron Rodgers could return this season, sources told ESPN, but the New York Jets quarterback has not and will not put a specific timeline on his return.

Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers tore his Achilles in 2021 and came back faster than virtually any professional athlete: just under five months. Rodgers tore his Achilles on Sept. 11 — exactly five months before this season’s Super Bowl in Las Vegas.

Other factors that will play into any potential quick return. The Jets have to do their part by winning to make his return worthwhile. Then there is the question of how his replacement, Zach Wilson, plays. If Wilson is shining, Rodgers will not want to interfere with his progress.

Rodgers will be expected to look at the entire situation, not just his condition, to see if a return at some point this season is even possible, as much of a long shot as it might be, sources said.

During an interview on “The Pat McAfee Show” on Friday, Rodgers didn’t dismiss the possibility of returning for the postseason but avoided giving any specific timetable.

“Give me the doubts, give me the timetables, give me all the things that you think can, should or will happen, because all I need is that one little extra percent of inspiration,” Rodgers said in his first public comments since the injury. “That’s all I need. So give me your doubts, give me your prognostications and then watch what I do.”

At the very least, the comforting part for Jets and Rodgers fans is that he clearly intends to try to play again, and now the recovery process that will start in Los Angeles and continue in New Jersey will determine how long it will take.

Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who operated on Rodgers this past week in Los Angeles, repaired Kobe Bryant’s torn Achilles in 2013, and it took Bryant eight months to return to action. NBA All-Star Kevin Durant tore his Achilles in June 2019 and returned in December 2020, some 18 months later. Former Atlanta Hawks standout Dominique Wilkins tore his in January 1992 and came back the following November.

In the NFL, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham tore his Achilles in September 2021 and returned the following September, one year later.

And Akers made headlines in 2021 for his quick return from a torn Achilles. It happened in July, and he made it back for the final regular-season game and postseason — a five-month recovery.

Surgical techniques and therapy techniques have evolved, so Rodgers has that going for him. Now he will have a chance to mount his own comeback as soon as late this season, certainly by next season, but with his only timeline being to play again.

Meanwhile, Jets coach Robert Saleh said he believes that no matter who the quarterback is, a team needs three elements to win on the road: a strong ground game, a tough defense and sound special teams. The Jets believe they check all those marks, giving them a chance to win Sunday in Dallas and in any road game.

There are reasons the Jets did not rush to sign another quarterback this past week. They did not want anyone threatening Wilson and want to throw their full support behind him. They believe he has improved over last year and is more like the quarterback they expected to get with the second overall pick.

The Jets still have a quarterback plan and could consider signing another backup as early as this week, sources said. But they have not been in any rush. Wilson is their No. 1 quarterback, Tim Boyle is their No. 2, and WR Randall Cobb will serve as the emergency No. 3 QB.

Information from ESPN’s Rich Cimini was used in this report.

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