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Aaron Rodgers ‘proud’ of Zach Wilson, says rehab ahead of schedule

New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers praised the growth of teammate Zach Wilson after his confident performance in Sunday night’s game, while saying he is already “ahead of my normal protocols” in his injury rehab process.

The four-time NFL Most Valuable Player had spent a few weeks away from the Jets’ facility while rehabbing after Achilles surgery, but he rejoined the team Saturday night at their hotel.

In his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” Tuesday, Rodgers said he and Wilson speak almost every day.

“We’re very close, and I love him. I care about him. I’m always checking in on him, seeing how he’s doing,” Rodgers said. “I think you’ve seen a lot of great leadership growth from him. I think our society at times wants to cancel people, or label people and keep that label on him, regardless of any self-growth, or experience that changes your perspective on life. He’s been labeled a certain way by people, so when people see this other side, they don’t know what to think or how to react.

“But Zach’s a young kid. He’s learning, he’s growing. He’s on his own path, his journey. Very proud of the leadership that he showed. I’m proud of the way he played.”

Rodgers’ return to the team coincided with Wilson’s best performance of the season, and perhaps as an NFL player. After a slow start Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs, Wilson wound up completing 28 of 39 passes for 245 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He ran in a two-point conversion play to tie the game before the Chiefs won 23-20.

“You know, I don’t need to pull him aside and tell him anything special,” Rodgers said. “There wasn’t some kind of pep talk that I gave him that made him play better. I felt like the plan was a good plan. He got into a rhythm there in the second quarter. Made a bunch of really great throws. I thought the drive coming out of halftime was really fantastic. Started off the second half with a back-shoulder seam route to (Tyler Conklin) and then hit a lot of other good throws on the drive. Hit his favorite play down in the red zone to Allen (Lazard) for a touchdown. Then ran QB draw. Had a great scramble to get in the end zone and get us tied. That thing, the whole place changed after that. I mean, it was pretty electric.”

Rodgers also reiterated his goal of returning to the playing field before season’s end.

“It’s pretty obvious I’m well ahead of my normal protocols when it comes to rehab for this kind of thing, but that was always what my mindset was,” he said. “… Being as smart as possible not trying to stress the Achilles, but stressing the Achilles in a way that allows me to do movement quicker and speed up whatever timeline that has been the standard for this type of injury.”

Rodgers not only tore his Achilles tendon on the fourth play of the season, but injured the deltoid muscle in his ankle as well.

“There’s nothing normal about how I’m attacking this rehab,” Rodgers said. “The common practice is about six weeks in a boot, and I was in a shoe in 13 days.

“This is just my mindset. I believe in the power of intention. I believe in prayer. I believe in your mental status and the power of will. I believe in making room for the miraculous to happen.”

–Field Level Media

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