FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers threw some pretty passes at practice. Cameras clicked. Reporters tweeted.
Relax, Jets fans. All is right again.
Rodgers participated in practice for the first time in front of the media Tuesday after a strained calf kept him out of the sessions the past two weeks when reporters were in attendance.
“There’s been some ‘wow’ moments,” coach Robert Saleh said. “I’m sure there will be a heck of a lot more.”
The 39-year-old Rodgers, acquired by New York from Green Bay in April, tweaked his right calf during warmups on May 23 — the first practice open to reporters since the trade. He was mostly a spectator last Tuesday when the media returned, spending time with trainers and on the stationary bike before throwing some passes on the side.
Rodgers got back on the field last Friday, and has been practicing since. The four-time NFL MVP still isn’t a full participant just yet, though. He’s doing everything — drills, 7-on-7s, two-minute plays, red zone — except for 11-on-11 team drills.
“Anything team, where people are going to be around his legs, we’ve been holding him out on that stuff,” Saleh said.
A few dozen reporters and TV camera crews were back in full force Tuesday after the Jets tweeted a few throws from Rodgers in practice Monday — including a perfectly placed spiral to tight end C.J. Uzomah.
“That was a dirty throw,” Saleh said.
On Tuesday, Rodgers misfired on a short pass to Uzomah, but then bounced back with short touchdown tosses to Garrett Wilson — a back-shoulder fade — and undrafted rookie Jason Brownlee.
“He’s just got tremendous vision,” Saleh said. “He can see it all. He’s got so much experience. I mean, you give him that much, you’re wide open.”
It’s still only June, of course, and training camp isn’t for another six weeks — and the regular-season opener is three months away. But Rodgers continues to make an early impact on his new teammates.
“He makes a difference with his confidence, he makes a difference with his communication and he makes a difference with his high level of play,” left guard Laken Tomlinson said. “It’s truly special working with someone of that caliber and it makes everyone be on their A-game every day.”
And it’s not just on offense where Rodgers is having that effect while helping coordinator Nathaniel Hackett install his system.
“It’s a different vibe,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “He sets the bar. He sets expectations with his resume, with his name and the way he approaches the game every single day. Just speaking as a linebacker and as a defense, it’s not every day you get to go against a future Hall of Fame quarterback.
“You get to test your skills, your knowledge and your ability every single day. As a defensive player, we’re honored and, honestly, really blessed just to be able to be in this situation to try to grow as a better defense together and as a team.”
Rodgers has made no secret since coming to the Jets he believes they can be winners. During his introductory news conference, he referred to the “lonely” Super Bowl III trophy from 1969 — still the only time the franchise has been in the NFL’s biggest game.
While at one of the two Taylor Swift concerts he recently attended at MetLife Stadium, Rodgers joked, “The Jets won the Super Bowl!” while confetti fell around him.
Rodgers’ presence has turned a Jets team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 12 years, the longest active drought in the league, into one of the Super Bowl favorites among some sports books.
“It’s just a bigger target on our back,” Mosley said of the heightened expectations. “And that’s exactly what we want. We want people to give us everything that they have. We want to go into other people’s stadiums and hear every single thing they have to say, so we can shut them up after the game is over.
“That’s what it’s going to take to win the Super Bowl. That’s what it’s going to take to grow as a team, be competitive and be able to win these tough games we have coming in the future.”
NOTES: Saleh announced the Jets will not hold their mandatory minicamp originally scheduled for next week. With New York set to open training camp a week earlier than usual because it’ll play Cleveland in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 3, Saleh wants to give the players some extra time off. … Saleh reiterated his confidence in the Jets signing All-Pro DT Quinnen Williams to a contract extension. Williams has not attended the voluntary portion of the offseason while waiting for his new deal. “I’ll let the business guys handle all that stuff, but it’s going to get done,” Saleh said. “He’ll be here for (training) camp. He’ll be ready to roll. And once he is, I’m sure it’ll be the same guy who was here.”
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