FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP)Aaron Rodgers’ season is over. It appears he might not be ready to call it a career.
“The night is darkest before the dawn,” the New York Jets quarterback wrote on Instagram on Wednesday night. “And I shall rise yet again.”
Rodgers is out for the season with a torn left Achilles tendon injury, suffered on the fourth snap of his debut with his new team Monday night. The 39-year-old quarterback had not commented publicly since the injury during the Jets’ season-opening 22-16 overtime win over Buffalo.
“Thank you to every person that has reached out, called, texted, DM’d, connected through a friend, etc.,” Rodgers wrote. “It has meant a ton to me, and I’ll try and get back to all of you soon.
“I’m completely heartbroken and moving through all of the emotions, but deeply touched and humbled by the support and love. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I begin the healing process today.”
Rodgers closed his post with: “Proud of my guys, 1-0.”
There had been some doubt as to whether Rodgers would consider retiring, although Jets coach Robert Saleh offered some optimism earlier Wednesday.
“I haven’t gone down that road with him,” Saleh said. “I mean, I’d be shocked if this is the way he’s going to go out. But at the same time, for him, he’s working through a whole lot of head space, things that he needs to deal with.
“That will be the last thing I talk to him about.”
Despite Rodgers’ Instagram post, it will surely be a conversation to be had with the quarterback, who Saleh said was going for some medical consultations to determine his next step, which will include surgery. Rodgers is also facing a long, arduous recovery and rehabilitation from the injury.
“I would think that somebody of his caliber, I would bet that he would have no problem coming back from it,” said Matt LaFleur, Rodgers’ former coach in Green Bay. “I really believe it. I know the type of worker he is, and so it’s just going to be a choice of whether or not he wants to continue to play or not.”
Rodgers turns 40 in December and had considered retirement before coming out of a self-reflective darkness retreat in February and saying he intended to continue to play – and wanted it to be with the Jets.
His trade to New York from Green Bay in April raised expectations for a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs in 12 years, to the point there were high hopes for a run at a Super Bowl. Now, Rodgers won’t be able to contribute on the field the rest of this season, but the Jets hope he’ll still help the team end its postseason drought by staying connected to his teammates and coaches.
“It’s important for him, his mental health and healing,” Saleh said. “But his presence, his words, his verbiage, like I’ve said, he’s as much a football coach as he is a player. And just having his presence, his thoughts, his words and his leadership, I think anybody would want that.”
Running back Dalvin Cook signed with the Jets during training camp in large part because of Rodgers being in New York. He also was looking forward to taking handoffs in games from Rodgers.
“Just being here with him the time that I was, it just breaks my heart for him,” Cook said. “I’ve been through injuries in this league and I see a guy who put so much into the game, just for it to happen like that, the game cheats you sometimes.
“And that was just one of those cheats.”
The Jets are turning back to Zach Wilson to replace Rodgers after the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft struggled mightily during his first two seasons – prompting New York to pursue a franchise-lifting signal caller.
Saleh and the Jets insist Wilson has improved since last season, and in large part because of his time the past several months with Rodgers.
“He’s got a lot of self confidence right now,” Saleh said of Wilson. “The easy stuff doesn’t look hard anymore. I mean, he gets back there and he does the fundamental things so well. His footwork is unbelievable.”
Wilson was shaky at times when he replaced Rodgers, finishing 14 of 21 for 140 yards with a touchdown and an interception. But he’ll get a week of practices – although it’s a bit of a short week after the Monday night game – to take the snaps as the starter and prepare to face the Cowboys in Dallas on Sunday.
And the Jets aren’t necessarily expecting him to be a Rodgers replica.
“Nobody does,” Saleh said. “He just needs to be him. Nobody needs to think they need to go all-world now. You just need to be yourself. Just trust that yourself is good enough.”
NOTES: S Jordan Whitehead was selected the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after his three-interception performance against the Bills. … Rookie WR Xavier Gipson is the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after his 65-yard punt return for a touchdown in overtime won the game for New York. … CB Brandin Echols is back from his one-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. … Saleh said DE Carl Lawson (back) should play Sunday after being inactive against the Bills. … LT Duane Brown (shoulder), RT Mekhi Becton (knee) and RB Breece Hall (knee) were listed as limited, although the Jets had only a walkthrough. All three played last week after being limited at the start of practices.
AP Sports Writer Steve Megargee in Green Bay, Wisconsin, contributed.
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