Aaron Rodgers is trying to rehab aggressively to return to the New York Jets, but there are risks involved
Mark Sanchez’s jaw dropped as he was doing the FOX Sports pregame show for Jets-Eagles and saw Rodgers throwing footballs on the field. Rodgers’ Achilles tear occurred on September 11, barely over a month ago. The standard recovery process for such an injury is a full season.
.@AaronRodgers12 just having a little catch 👀
— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 15, 2023
Rodgers is being lauded as a freak of nature, superhuman, and other similar adjectives. Indeed, he has often seemed so in his Hall of Fame career.
Still, from a medical perspective, Rodgers’ recovery may not be as astounding as it seems — and his aggressive rehab may pose risks for both this season and next.
Achilles rehab protocol
Dr. Brian Sutterer, a doctor of sports medicine at Southeast Health in Missouri, posts regularly on YouTube and Twitter about sports injuries and the underlying medical science. He was one of the Twitter doctors who noted the pop in the back of Rodgers’ calf as a possible (though not definite) indicator of an Achilles tear.
Since then, Rodgers came out on The Pat McAfee Show and expressed the possibility that he will play again this season. He described that his rehab protocol is cutting-edge and will allow him an accelerated return timetable. It has been reported that Rodgers underwent the same procedure that allowed Rams running back Cam Akers to return to play 5½ months after an ACL tear.
From The Insiders on NFL+: Do you want to SEE the surgery that #Jets QB Aaron Rodgers had? Well… Say hello to the Arthrex Achilles Mid Substance Speedbridge. We have an animation and everything! pic.twitter.com/kZ2YuO1idl
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 21, 2023
#Jets QB Aaron Rodgers is eyeing a stunning return date following surgery to repair his torn Achilles. And thanks to an innovative medical technique, being back for the playoffs is, at least, conceivable.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 17, 2023
The videos of Rodgers first on crutches, then without them at Jets games have caused quite a stir. When Rodgers was out on the field throwing footballs before the Jets-Eagles game, the hype blossomed out of control.
Dr. Sutterer took the window out of the sails of some of this hoopla, though. He pointed out that Rodgers’ ability to maneuver with crutches, and even without them for short periods of time, is normal for many Achilles surgeries.
This. Is. Normal.
The media thinks orthopedics is still living in the 1950s https://t.co/VorrUuieOX
— Brian Sutterer MD (@BrianSuttererMD) October 2, 2023
Sutterer also said the quiet part out loud: how effective can the 40-year-old Rodgers really be if he rushes his return?
Aaron Rodgers will return this season and be lauded as some medical marvel while everyone forgets that returning to play and returning to play SUCCESSFULLY (No tendon elongation, good strength, etc) are very different things.
— Brian Sutterer MD (@BrianSuttererMD) October 15, 2023
Dr. Sutterer analyzed Rodgers’ walking on crutches during the Jets-Chiefs game. He said that Rodgers might be slightly ahead of a typical Achilles recovery, but it’s not anything particularly out of the ordinary. He also noted that both Rodgers’ movement and weight-bearing were for short periods of time, which does not indicate how he can do with it for a long time. This applies also to Rodgers’ five-minute pregame throwing session before the Eagles game.
On the flip side, though, Dr. Sutterer pointed out that it’s the running and jumping that are the most concerning with an Achilles recovery. Since Rodgers is a quarterback, the loss of mobility may not be as devastating to him as it would be to those at other positions.
The doctor clarified that the biggest risk for Rodgers is that the Achilles will heal in a stretched position. Still, considering that he is near the end of his career, that might be a risk Rodgers is willing to take in order to return, whereas a younger player would be more careful not to impact their long-term prognosis.
What does this mean?
This is certainly a gray area in Rodgers’ recovery. How compromised will he be if he returns on an accelerated timetable? Could he potentially hurt his ability to come back in 2024 for another run? That appears to be a risk Rodgers is willing to take.
Robert Saleh said in a press conference that players on injured reserve, especially veterans, get a lot of leeway in their rehab protocols. It’s possible that Rodgers made that choice with Dr. ElAttrache without significant input from the Jets’ medical staff.
Either way, the Jets are still rolling with Zach Wilson for the foreseeable future. After their thrilling victory over the Eagles, the possibility of Rodgers returning for a postseason run will linger in fans’ minds.
Next Article: 5 players that stepped up big time in NY Jets’ upset win
Audio Version available to members only: Learn more here
Want More NY Jets News & Jets X-Factor Content?
Download the free Jet X Mobile App to get customizable notifications directly to your iOS (App Store) or Google/Android (Google Play) device.
Add Jets X-Factor to your Google News feed to stay up to date with the New York Jets.
Join the official Jets Discord community to connect with likeminded fans.