FLORHAM PARK — The life of thousands of New York Jets fans flashed before their eyes Tuesday morning when Aaron Rodgers was not seen taking part in team activities on day two of voluntary OTAs.
While a small calf strain was seen as the cause with no major concern from both the quarterback and the team, the small bump in the road during practice gave the Jets and their fanbase the real risk of bringing in a quarterback like Rodgers in the first place.
All of this could go away with a single snap.
New York has spent the last few years rebuilding their image into a respectable franchise across the NFL. They’ve drafted very well, have developed young talent, and have a coaching staff that is well-respected in most circles. All they really needed was a quarterback to complete the roster.
They did just that in the off-season, although their target certainly had flaws to him. At 39 years old, Rodgers is in the twilight years of his NFL career. He brings a Super Bowl mindset, an MVP-caliber arm, and over 19 years of experience into a team that hasn’t seen anything like him in a half-century.
But 39 is 39. Rodgers is not the same spry youngster that made his living being the most talented thrower of the football in years. He has to be more careful during training, and the Jets need to make sure their lucrative investment in the quarterback is well protected.
The Jets can certainly afford to sit Rodgers this early in off-season activities. The quarterback is still around the facility, maintained communication during meetings, and the team can turn to develop Zach Wilson as an added bonus.
So far, Wilson has taken the demotion to backup in stride. He had a terrific day in practice with seven-on-seven drills and has looked the part of a talented young backup that could start in a pinch should Rodgers not be ready.
New York has seen this song and dance before though. If they aren’t more careful with Rodgers, they would have to play Wilson throughout the regular season and risk another year on their championship window for a backup quarterback who has more interceptions than touchdowns through the early stages of his career.
Everything, in turn, goes back to Rodgers. As he nurses the calf injury that isn’t expected to be serious, the Jets have dodged a major first bullet on the injury front. But it’s as clear a warning sign as one could have of nothing in the NFL being what they seem. If the Jets aren’t careful, the excitement of Rodgers’ entrance could be overshadowed by dread.
And it’s far too early in the off-season to start thinking about the dread that could come from an injury to a quarterback.