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Rodgers says Christmas Eve return ‘possible’, but Jets must be alive in playoff race

Aaron Rodgers says the prospect of him returning to action before Christmas is not out of the question, but the New York Jets must be in playoff contention for it to make sense.

Rodgers has been sidelined since tearing his Achilles tendon on his Jets debut back in Week 1, taking just four snaps before being forced off against the Buffalo Bills.

The four-time NFL MVP was initially expected to miss the rest of the season, but he was cleared to return to practice just 11 weeks after undergoing surgery on the injury earlier this week.

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It had been reported that Rodgers was targeting the Jets’ home game against the Washington Commanders on December 24 for his comeback, with that contest coming after meetings with the Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins.

Rodgers was able to take part in limited practice on Wednesday and does not believe an earlier-than-expected return is out of the question as he prepares to step up his recovery next week.

“Anything is possible,” Rodgers told reporters on Thursday, when asked if he could be back in action by Week 16.

“It feels great to be on the practice field, but I’m not anywhere near ready to play.

“Obviously, I can drop back, I can do some things in a small circle, but I don’t think I can protect myself as well as I’d like to at this point. So I’ve got to do a little more.

“Obviously, Sunday [versus Atlanta] is out of the question, but I’m going to push it next week, see how I’m feeling after Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and see how I respond.”

The Jets have struggled in Rodgers’ absence, sliding to 4-7 by losing their last four games after appearing to be in recovery when they posted three successive wins in October.

Their quarterback woes continued last week as Rodgers’ backup Zach Wilson was demoted ahead of their Thanksgiving game against Miami, when replacement Tim Boyle threw two interceptions and was sacked seven times.

With the Jets currently possessing the joint-second worst record in the AFC, Rodgers says an early comeback – with the risks it would entail – will only be worth it if they have a shot at the postseason.

Asked if he would return for a game with no playoff implications, the 39-year-old said: “I don’t think that would make a ton of sense.

“A comeback this year before the four-month mark would mean I’m not 100 per cent healthy, so it’d be a risk for myself.

“For the team to sign off on if we’re out of it [playoff contention], I’d be surprised if they would okay that, for me to come back.”

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