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New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers is targeting an improbable playoff return from his torn Achilles after undergoing an innovative surgery on Wednesday in Los Angeles — a procedure designed to accelerate the normal rehabilitation process from such an injury.
Sources say renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache and his team performed a procedure to place an internal brace — called an Achilles “speed bridge” — on Rodgers’ fully torn left Achilles, which he ruptured just four snaps into Monday’s game against the Bills. While there are no guarantees, the speed bridge protects the repair and opens up the possibility of an earlier return, sources say.
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It’s a relatively new process designed to have an athlete fully recovered in as little as four months from what is normally a season-ending injury, per sources informed of the procedure. It also could potentially give Rodgers at least a shot to be ready to return in mid-January, right around the start of the playoffs if the Jets qualify for the postseason.
Rodgers might also receive platelet-rich plasma injections, similar to what Lakers star Kobe Bryant — who had ElAttrache repair his Achilles in 2013 — famously received in Germany for a knee injury. There are other players in the NFL who have undergo similar procedures, including Russell Wilson last year.
Rodgers said on The Pat McAfee Show on Friday that he texted ElAttrache from the locker room to start the process of recovery.
“There’s a lot of different ideas about the overall length of the rehab, I think what I’d like to say is, just because nobody’s ever done it in a certain way doesn’t mean it’s not possible,” Rodgers said. “I definitely have some odds stacked against me based on age, but I like it. Stack all the odds up against me and see what happens. My entire focus and dedication is about acquiring the most information and adding to what I’ve already put together as a pretty damn good rehab plan that’s going to, I think, shock some people.”
While Rodgers has high hopes for a quick return, there are plenty of caveats.
The speed bridge does not guarantee a quicker return, though it is said to enhance the strength of the repair and guard it against stretching, sources say. So much depends on how Rodgers’ rehab goes and how his body responds as he turns 40 in December. If there is no reason to push the return — i.e. the Jets are not in the playoffs — then this would be moot.
The Jets, of course, would need to get there without the four-time NFL MVP Rodgers. Former No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson will start Sunday’s road game against the Cowboys.
There might also be some risks with the procedure. But for Rodgers, the potential benefits of a much-faster return to the field outweigh risks such as needing a future surgery, sources say.
For now, the Jets will roll with Wilson under center. Sources say they have not sought another high-profile veteran QB — not Tom Brady, not Matt Ryan, not Joe Flacco. The thought, essentially, was that Wilson gives them the best chance to win.
Wilson is talented, but it was clear last year his confidence waned. This year, his confidence appears high and it’s evident he has benefited from months of offseason work alongside his childhood hero Rodgers, as well as new Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, passing game coordinator Todd Downing and others on remodeled coaching staff. The Jets have made it known publicly they believe in Wilson with head coach Robert Saleh telling reporters “we’re rolling with Zach.”
Sources say Rodgers has been FaceTiming with Wilson this week, making sure he’s up to speed. The two have actually been in communication since a joint practice during Wilson’s rookie season in 2021, and that has continued.
“I truly believe in myself,” Wilson told reporters on Sept. 14.
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