New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, left, and quarterback Zach Wilson, right, attend practice in the rain before an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
The New York Jets returned to work Monday and Aaron Rodgers was right there with them.
During a time of despair on the field for a struggling squad, the quarterback’s regular presence around the team’s facility might provide a mental pick-me-up.
“Just seeing Aaron this morning and actually seeing Aaron in there doing treatment,” left guard Laken Tomlinson said, “a guy who’s in there doing everything he can treatment-wise, and for me, coming in after game that we had and seeing him, how hard he’s been working, that was motivation.
New York Jets quarterback Tim Boyle (7) passes against the Miami Dolphins during the second quarter of an NFL football game, Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
“That’s motivation for me.”
Every little bit will help right about now.
The Jets (4-7) are on a four-game losing streak and coming off a rough 34-13 loss to Miami last Friday that included a Hail Mary attempt by New York at the end of the first half that was returned 99 yards for a touchdown.
New York Jets quarterback Tim Boyle (7) makes a lateral pass against the Miami Dolphins during the first quarter of an NFL football game, Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Coach Robert Saleh huddled up with his team Monday morning after a few days off and had a message for everyone.
“He challenged us,” Tomlinson said. “He said we can all be better as players and coaches. But what we really need to get back to is just controlling the stuff that we can control.”
It’s not necessarily the effort, either. It’s the coaches — Saleh included — calling better games and the execution of the plans by the players.
Edge rusher Jermaine Johnson called it “constructive criticism,” something from which everyone can benefit with the team in a rut.
Miami Dolphins safety Jevon Holland (8) intercepts a Hail Mary pass against the New York Jets during the second quarter of an NFL football game, Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. Holland ran back the pass for a touchdown. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)
“At the end of the day, it’s just somebody wanting to you to be the best version of yourself,” Johnson said. “And Coach wants us to be the best version of this team as we can be. So, I mean, that’s how I take it. I’m pretty sure that’s how most everybody takes it.
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh answers questions during a news conference after an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
“So, just taking it as a challenge and looking to fix what he had up there for us today.”
The Jets will have a chance to bounce back Sunday at home when they face the Atlanta Falcons, who sit in first place in the NFC South despite a 5-6 record. Tim Boyle will get his second start for New York after replacing the benched Zach Wilson.
But the not-so-subtle subplot remains the status of Rodgers, who turns 40 on Saturday and is now expected to stay with the team the rest of the season instead of traveling from his rehabilitation in Los Angeles to New Jersey.
“Just happy to see a semi-new face in the building,” linebacker C.J. Mosley joked.
Rodgers has made remarkably fast progress in his return from a torn left Achilles tendon. He remains intent on practicing within the next week or so, and eventually playing a game this season — presumably as long as the Jets are still in the playoff hunt.
Among the next steps is doctors clearing Rodgers to practice, a scenario that seemed nearly impossible when he went down just four snaps into his debut with the Jets.
“Nobody has ever seen anything like this,” Mosley said. “You can just look at the process and where he’s at now with the injury and just be happy for him, be glad that he’s able to walk, be glad that he’s even in this position to try to play football again, especially this early.
“As a friend and as a teammate, I’m just happy to see him healthy, see him smile and see him having a pep in his step, which is crazy. But when it comes to the football stuff, you know, that’s God’s will and if that’s the way it’s going to work out, then I’ll definitely be happy with it.”
The Jets know they’ve also got to do their own part, starting with Sunday’s game.
“It’s just like how Coach told us today, man, just one step at a time,” Mosley said. “We can’t really be looking that far down the road because we’ve got to handle today and tomorrow.”
NOTES: OL Chris Glaser was re-signed to the practice squad. Glaser started at right guard at Buffalo on Nov. 19 and was released a few days later.
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