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Aaron Rodgers faces ‘uphill battle’ to make NFL return

Aaron Rodgers faces a long road back if he wants to continue playing.

The rest of the 2023 season is over and there’s also no guarantee he’ll be ready early next year, according to two orthopedic specialists who spoke with The Post.

Rodgers ruptured his left Achilles tendon Monday night early in the Jets’ overtime victory over the Bills.

The date of the operation has not yet been determined, said head coach Robert Saleh.

While there have been cases of players returning quickly from such an injury (Rams running back Cam Akers returned in just under six months), Rodgers’ age (he turns 40 in December ) plays against him.

Recovery time is typically nine months to a year, although it may take longer.

“At 40, it’s an uphill battle,” said Dr. Ryan Minara, chief of podiatric medicine and surgery at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. “Can he do it? Not only are these NFL quarterbacks the best in the world, but he’s also one of the best of the best, a very competitive guy. So, definitely, it works for him, but considering The way the body ages, even if he’s a high-level competitive athlete, it’s a difficult injury to recover from.

Aaron Rodger is treated by a trainer after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury during the Jets’ 22-16 win over the Bills.

Minara believes Rodgers’ mobility, if he plays next season, would be limited and that the Jets would have to build an elite offensive line so he wouldn’t have to use his legs.

He may need to change his game. Dr. Andrew Brief of Ridgewood Orthopedic Group, trained in orthopedic foot and ankle reconstruction, said athletes can typically expect to regain about 90 percent of their strength and their speed in the year following the injury. The quarterback position doesn’t require the same explosive moves as a running back, cornerback or wide receiver, which works in Rodgers’ favor.

“I wouldn’t extrapolate from this injury, even with his age, that it’s a career-ending injury at this point,” Brief said. “This is an extremely important variable, with age being something that certainly lends itself to a longer and more difficult recovery. That being said, we are talking about an elite athlete. … In the context of his sport, football, he is not young. However, in the overall context of his recovery from an Achilles repair, he is still not considered an old man.

He added: “I would say at this stage it is in no way right to rule Rodgers out. I would be surprised if this turns out to be a career-ending injury and his first and last game as a New York Jet.

There have been aging quarterbacks who suffered the same injury and returned to play for several more years. Dan Marino (at 33) and Vinny Testaverde (at 35) are two examples.

“Even if they were younger, I would still expect him to hopefully return to the same or close to the same level of play when he has fully recovered,” Brief said.

“I would say at this stage it is in no way fair to rule him out as it is a career-ending injury.”

New York Post

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