Aaron Rodgers is back...sort of. The NY Jets announced on Wednesday that they had designated him to return from the injured reserve, opening a 21-day window for him to be officially activated to the 53-man roster.
That 21-day window would put him in line to play on Christmas Eve against the Washington Commanders — a date that has been marked as a goal by Rodgers in the past.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh made it clear that it's far from a guarantee that Rodgers is actually activated from the injured reserve. The Jets will evaluate Rodgers over the next three weeks and make a decision prior to Week 16 against Washington.
If he's not activated before that game, Rodgers will revert to season-ending injured reserve and be out for the season. While a return to live game action is still not a lock, his return to practice has felt inevitable for weeks now.
What does this mean for Aaron Rodgers and the NY Jets?
Saleh said that Rodgers has been cleared to practice on a limited basis starting this week. He won't participate in team drills until he's cleared by doctors, but he has been permitted to participate in individual drills.
Saleh also made it clear that Rodgers "is not going to do anything that puts himself in harm’s way." The Jets trust Rodgers and the medical professionals to make sure that he isn't at an increased risk of re-injury.
Rodgers tore his Achilles just 79 days ago and underwent surgery around 2.5 months prior to his return to practice. To say this is unprecedented would be an understatement.
Rodgers is attempting to do what no professional athlete has ever even come close to doing before. In fact, you could argue that he's already done it. Even returning to practice is a significant accomplishment in its own right.
Now, Rodgers has said that he will only return if the Jets are still in playoff contention. At 4-7, the Jets' postseason hopes have all but dissipated at this point. Still, this is Aaron Rodgers we're talking about. You can't count out a return, no matter the circumstances.
Rodgers continues to defy the laws of modern sports medicine. He may not be fully back yet, but he will be participating in practice. That's truly remarkable.