Head Coach Robert Saleh, 11.29
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Real quick with injuries, ‘Izzy’ (Israel Abanikanda), he’s dealing with an illness. He’s not going to be at practice today, but he should be back tomorrow. A bunch of guys are limited, and we’re opening up the windows for Wes Schweitzer, Justin Hardee and Aaron (Rodgers).
Connor Hughes, SNY: You are opening up the Aaron (Rodgers) window?
Connor Hughes, SNY: So, what does that mean? Probably in line with what he’s trying to do, but can you just talk a little bit about his recovery in general, the fact that it was September 11, and now…
For Aaron, different than like Hardee or Wes where we’re getting those guys ready to play. This isn’t so much getting ready to play as much as it is a progression this rehab. I can get in all the detail with regards to IR designations and all that and where we stand and why we’re able to do this, but for Aaron, what he will be doing in practice is no different than what he would be doing on field three as you guys all watch it, with regards to certain drills and individual, being able to throw it. Instead of throwing with staff members he is throwing with teammates, so there’s no added risk to it. There are certain things that he’s been cleared for that we’re going to allow him to do.
Andy Vasquez, NJ Advanced Media: Do you anticipate being able to activate him after the 21 days are out?
We’re not there yet because, like a lot of guys coming off, they are usually not ready to play football. There’s still a little bit of health concern there, so you use these 21-daywindows to see where they’re at so we’re so far away from that. Like I said, the mindset for this is more of a progression in his rehab and, like I said, he’s been cleared for functional football activity. He’s not cleared to fully play football. Like I said, it is part of his rehab progression.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: I am sure this is sooner than maybe you would have anticipated when the injury happened?
I think it is sooner than everybody did, but I think it’s credit to him. I know we are getting caught up and trying to create a narrative around it, but the true narrative is that he is old school in the sense that he is driven. Is there a motivation to be the first to ever do it? Sure. That’s okay. That is his why. It’s his mentality that I think young guys should be able to grasp. He loves this organization. He wants to be with his teammates. He wants to be here. I think he’s sacrificed so much already for the organization and himself and his teammates and he’s doing it again. I think it’s a testament to who he is as a human. Yeah, obviously, there’s a little bit of that drive where he wants to prove that it can be done faster than anyone’s ever done before. That’s okay. That is just part of his mental makeup. I think he still runs with a chip on his shoulder and that’s the way he lives his life where he always wants to prove people wrong, in terms of, doubting him and he’s a special human. I think his actions are showing and how much he appreciates this organization and everything around it.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, do guys, you, Joe (Douglas) and Woody (Johnson), do you have to think big picture, though about the risk involved? Not necessarily with the practice, but when he is activated for a game, the risk involved and whether it’s worth it looking ahead to 2024?
Yeah, everyone is on the same page with regards to what the next steps are and all that stuff. Like I said, this is so different than Hardee, and Duane Brown and anyone else who we opened the window for to return, (Kenny) Yeboah we have to make a decision on him soon. With Aaron, like I said, this is more progression in his rehab and if we get to that 21-day window and he’s feeling great, we’ll have that discussion then, but right now, it’s just a matter of just him progressing in his rehab.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Robert, there is a fear, I think, across the fan base, across by the NFL, that he’s going to rush his way back, he’s going to do this too quick and the risk of the reinjury is going to say, ‘I’m done, 2024, forget it. I just got hurt again it’s a sign, whatever’. Are you guys under the impression that whatever happens this year, he is going to be back in 2024, no matter what?
Yeah, I am under the impression that he will be back in 2024, regardless of what happens. One thing with veterans and I think it’s important to know, the best example I can give is Richard Sherman. These guys just know their bodies differently. They know their body better than anybody in the world, better than an MRI scan, better than a doctor, better than anything, they just know. I can give you a story where Sherman played half of 2019, with a torn hamstring and still found a way to get to the field and play because he knows how to play the game. He knows how to position his body. He knows how to get through that stuff in rehab. As it pertains to Aaron, I promise Aaron is not going to do anything that puts himself in harm’s way. If he is not healthy to play, Aaron is very, very smart. That’s not something he’s going to put himself at risk for. With that said, though, he is driven, he is achieving things that have never been achieved with regards to this injury and the progression with regard to rehab he is on. I think it’s remarkable what he is doing, but he is also smart, with regards to how fast it is going.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Are you guys continuing the progression to getting him ready to potentially play, whether you are in playoff discussion or not? Or is his return a predicator on playoffs?
We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Like I said, I am not even thinking about 21 days from now, I am just thinking Atlanta. If that bridge is crossed, that will be an organizational decision, obviously Aaron being a big part of that.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Is there a specific reason why today, you are opening the window?
He was cleared. Like I said, the doctors cleared him for the next step in his rehab. We are in a position, not to get too technical for everyone, but you’re allowed a certain amount of IR designations to return every year. We’re in a position where we’ve got a few extras, a few that we won’t use at all, so it doesn’t do anything to us roster wise, we won’t have to cut anyone, we don’t have to move anyone to the side. The technicality, not to get too specific for everyone but I will, the technicality is that he is either doing everything he’s cleared for off to the side, as you guys know it as field three, or he’s doing everything that he is cleared with his team and with his teammates. So, instead of throwing to the strength and conditioning coach, he can throw to his teammates, that’s the only difference. Like I said, if we didn’t have the IR destinations than this would a moot point, there would be no discussion with regards to it, he would be off to the side with everybody else. We just have that ability, that luxury and thought would be good for him.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Is there a plan mapped out over the next 21 days to escalate his activity? Like next week he’s going to join team drills?
That will all be on the doctor, but I would assume so.
Bruce Beck, WNBC: Do you have a message to your team regarding him being back and participating more and gearing up here?
No, I think if I’m a young guy and I’m watching him, I think I would grab hold of that subliminal message, that unspoken word of here is an older man who has nothing to prove, he is already going to the Hall of Fame. A man who is sacrificing so much of his body, so much of his bank account, so much of everything, for an organization because he loves the game of football. At the end of the day, we are playing a kids game at a king’s ransom and I think he embodies it.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Can he do individual drills? Like the throwing to receivers?
I don’t want to get too specific, I know that he has been cleared for indo (individual), routes on air, and that is about it.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, when you say the doctors cleared him, it that (Neal) ElAttrache, the Jets team doctors?
It is pretty much everybody.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Where are you offensive line wise, Duane Brown, Mekhi Becton?
I feel good about Mekhi (Becton) getting back this week. Again, with Duane Brown, I really like what Carter Warren has been doing, so I’m trying to make sure that we get a chance to see him too. Duane, again, we’ll see how this week goes with regards to practice and everything.
Andrew Crane, New York Post: Do you anticipate Allen (Lazard) being active or is it something you are still working through?