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Jets QB Aaron Rodgers feeling 'really good' coming off torn Achilles, embraces pressure entering 2024

Aaron Rodgers is back and feeling good as he enters his 20th NFL season.

The 40-year-old spoke Tuesday on the state of his return from last year's torn Achilles tendon, and the New York Jets quarterback likes where he's at less than four months from the start of the 2024 NFL season.

"I feel really good," Rodgers said. "It's just about the mental part. These practices have been nice the last couple of days. Feel what it's like to be out there, to be moving around, to not be thinking about it and see how I respond the next day. This is the last part.

"The strength is good, the movement is good, just the confidence to do everything."

Echoing Jets head coach Robert Saleh, who earlier said his QB has no activity restrictions, Rodgers sounded as positive and upbeat about his health as he has in quite some time.

"I feel like I can do anything," he said. "I can run at top speed. It's just, in those moments, the reactions coming naturally."

The early results appear to match Rodgers' words. Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said Rodgers has discovered "some fountain of youth" with the way he's performed in OTAs, saying it feels like he hasn't missed a beat from where he was a year ago prior to the injury.

Rodgers said he feels as though the Jets' offense is "ahead of where we were last year" and likes the fact the Jets bulked up their offensive line and added more weapons on the whole this offseason. It's easy to see why the excitement is once again building in Florham Park.

But he also ditched the sunshine and roses for a dose of reality. Rodgers knows that if he and the Jets don't perform up to expectations this coming season, it's obvious what might happen thereafter.

"Well, I think if I don't do what I'm capable of doing, then we're all probably gonna be out of here (next season)," Rodgers said. "I like that kind of pressure, though. I know it's a tough market to play in; it's not for everybody. Relish that opportunity. That's the way the NFL is. ... As you get older in the league, if you do not perform, they're going to get rid of you or bring in the next guy to take over. It happened in Green Bay, and I'm a few years older than I was back then. I expect to play at a high level, I expect us to be productive and competitive, and all that stuff to take care of itself."

Rodgers denied that he was more hungry now than a year ago, saying, "I was pretty damn hungry last year," but added that he was in a good place regardless.

"I'm enjoying this time," he said. "It's been a very interesting eight, nine months. A lot of grinding to get back, so I'm trying to enjoy this time that comes with it, get to know my guys and look for ways to help us get better."

Rodgers also said he had "a lot of motivation" and that he "love(s) the game," which is part of why he didn't consider an offseason career change despite receiving an unusual job offer. Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. reportedly extended an offer to Rodgers to be his running mate on the November ticket.

Why did Rodgers pass? Football.

"There were really two options: Retire and be his VP or keep playing," Rodgers said. "I wanted to keep playing."

The Jets are thankful for that. They will get another chance to see if their 2023 masterplan can finally work in 2024, even if it could be their last shot with Rodgers.

But don't expect any more off-field noise from Rodgers as the season ramps up.

"I respect those opinions, but those are offseason things," he said when asked about potential distractions. "And those are real opportunities. Mostly podcasts was friends of mine, and the Bobby thing was a real thing. How it got out there, I don't know -- it wasn't from me. Once the season starts, it's all about football."

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