EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Only four-plus weeks removed from surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon, New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers surprised onlookers by throwing for five minutes during the pregame warmups before his team faced the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Rodgers, 39, injured in the season opener Sept. 11, arrived at the stadium with no sign of crutches. About two hours before kickoff, he threw on the field to a Jets staff member, later tossing a few to star cornerback Sauce Gardner, who is ruled out for Sunday's game with a concussion.
The four-time MVP was stationary while throwing, but he was stepping into each pass, putting weight on his surgically repaired left Achilles. He was about 15 yards away from his target.
Rodgers watched the game from the Jets' sideline, wearing a headset. For safety reasons, it's unusual for injured players to be in the bench area during games.
Jets coach Robert Saleh said Rodgers' rate of recovery is "unbelievable." He said he has talked to people who had the same injury, "and everyone is in awe that he's even walking. For him to be on the sideline standing the entire time, he's a freakazoid."
That Rodgers attended the game was a surprise. He recently said his plan was to do his rehab in California then return to the Jets after their Week 7 bye. This was his second game since the injury. He also attended an Oct. 1 home game, using crutches to get around. It's unclear if he will remain in New Jersey or return to California.
Rodgers has stated that his "goal" is to defy the odds and play again this season. On Sept. 13, he had surgery in Los Angeles. Dr. Neal ElAttrache used a "speed bridge" technique, which has become more common in recent years for Achilles repairs. Experts say this method promotes quicker healing.
For rehab, Rodgers is using blood flow restriction, a technique that allows him to build muscle with low-load exercise. Typically, it takes about three months for the Achilles tendon to heal, experts say. At that time, the athlete can jump into a more aggressive rehab plan. To play again this season, Rodgers' recovery period would have to be less than four months, which would be unprecedented for an NFL player.