Will Aaron Rodgers return for playoffs? Jets QB undergoes innovative procedure on Achilles for hope of 2023 comeback

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Aaron Rodgers said on "The Pat McAfee Show" that he is trying to defy expectations for how long it takes for a 39-40-year-old to return from a torn Achilles. Apparently, that meant turning to an innovative procedure.

NFL Network's Ian Rapaport and Tom Pelissero reported on Saturday that Rodgers had undergone a new procedure called an Achilles "speed bridge" in an effort to return to the field faster. Though the report stated there are no guarantees, it says it does leave open the possibility Rodgers could return for the playoffs.

Rodgers had been asked on the show whether he was trying to make it back in time for the playoffs. The Jets quarterback did not completely pour cold water on the idea, noting that "anything's possible" while adding that "it doesn't do anything to make prognostications."

"I'm going to try and push this thing as much as it will allow me," Rodgers said. "And there's markers I gotta see, where I'm at after a week in, two weeks in, a month and in two months and then we'll see what the conversation is from there."

MORE: Doctor outlines Aaron Rodgers' recovery timeline & outlook for NFL return

Rodgers tore his left Achilles on the fourth play of his Jets debut on "Monday Night Football" against the Bills, a game in which the Jets came back to win 22-16 with Zach Wilson at the helm. The severe nature of the injury immediately cast doubt on whether Rodgers would return to the football field at all, particularly given his age and his past retirement speculation.

Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed the procedure on Wednesday, and Rodgers first spoke publicly on Friday, when he appeared on "The Pat McAfee Show," during which he made it clear he wanted "the doubts."

"Give me the doubts, give me the doubts, give me the timetables, give me all the things that you think can, should or will happen because all I need is that 1 little extra percent of inspiration. That's all I need," Rodgers said. "Give me your doubts, give me your prognostications and then watch what I do."

When asked about his rehab, Rodgers said he has spoken with other athletes that have undergone the operation to learn about the best way to come back.

"It's going to be an interesting type of attacking of the rehab because I'm drawing from all these different sources. I spent the last couple days on the phone with people all over the country, giving me their time and advice," Rodgers said. "So my entire focus and dedication is on acquiring the most information and then adding to what I've already put together as a pretty damn good rehab plan that I think is going to shock some people."

What is an Achilles 'speed bridge'?

This procedure is a new way of trying to operate on Achilles injuries. According to Adelaide Ankle Surgery, the procedure "involves elevation of the Achilles from most of its insertion, removal of the spurs and degenerate tendon, then reattachment to the heel bone with strong sutures."

The site describes the surgery as taking 45 minutes. From there, the patient will need two weeks of rest, elevation and ice, and using crutches to move. The next four weeks can involve use of the "moon-boot" to stand and walk. Then there will be four months of rehab before returning to sports.

Based on that timeline, a return to the field for the playoffs could be generous. That timeline would have him able to return at some point in March as opposed to January or February.

As Rapoport and Pelissero noted in their report, the speed bridge won't necessarily mean Rodgers returns to the field faster, but it should "enhance the strength of the repair and guard it against stretching."

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Edward Sutelan is a content producer at The Sporting News.