FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers might see more than just a few snaps in his New York Jets preseason debut against the Giants on Saturday night.
The four-time NFL MVP will play in an exhibition game for the first time since 2018, when he was with the Green Bay Packers. It will be a final tuneup for Rodgers and the Jets' starters before the regular-season opener at home on Sept. 11 against the Buffalo Bills.
“I used to enjoy playing in the preseason back in my younger years,” the 39-year-old Rodgers said Tuesday. “Just to kind of maybe take that first hit or feel the nerves on the first drive, so I look forward to being out there.”
Rodgers, acquired from the Packers in April, has throughout the summer said he’d be open to playing some snaps in the preseason with the Jets. Coach Robert Saleh would like to see Rodgers and the starters on offense play in more than just one drive.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Saleh said. “I don’t want to just throw him out there for a series and get him out. Would like to see those guys go through transition, get to the sideline, have some adjustments, get back to the field, play with those adjustments. So you’d like to see that transition happen a few times.”
Saleh said he and Rodgers spoke before deciding the quarterback would play.
“It was not much of a conversation with Robert,” Rodgers said. “I think he was a little more nervous I might have said no, but I was already leaning toward asking him to play — so it was an easy conversation.”
Saleh thought it would be good for Rodgers to take the field at least for a few plays on his new home's turf before the regular-season opener.
“Just didn't want the first time he goes out with his new team, new colors, new teammates, new stadium — didn't want Sept. 11 to be the first time,” Saleh said.
Rodgers has remained on the sideline during the Jets' first three preseason games while Zach Wilson has started, including New York's 13-6 loss to Tampa Bay last Saturday night at MetLife Stadium.
The decision to play Rodgers before the regular season has caused anxiety for some Jets fans, not wanting to see their quarterback get injured — especially with many having Super Bowl aspirations.
“You can't coach scared, you can't play scared,” Saleh said. "You can slip out of your car and have something happen to you. We'll be — knock on wood — fine. You see the great ones out there. Kansas City's playing their guys, Buffalo's playing their guys — it's not uncommon.
“You can always play the hindsight game or the fearful game, but what's in the best interest for our team is to go out there and play some football together and prepare us the best way we can for Sept. 11.”
Rodgers' previous preseason game was Aug. 16, 2018, when he started and went 2 of 4 for 35 yards and a touchdown in his one series.
“There's always that risk-reward,” Rodgers said of playing in the preseason. “I think over the years, it just hasn't made sense based on a number of different factors.”
BECTON'S ALL RIGHT
Saleh said Mekhi Becton would start at right tackle against the Giants after he played 25 snaps there against the Buccaneers and performed well in his NFL debut at the position.
Becton found out in the team meeting Tuesday morning he had drawn the assignment for the preseason finale.
“I felt real comfortable where I was at,” Becton said. “I felt good.”
Becton, who has missed almost all of the past two seasons with knee injuries, has been a left tackle to start his career but Duane Brown is the expected starter there. After the Jets used a few players on the right side during training camp, Becton — healthy again, slimmer after dropping 30 pounds and confident in his surgically repaired knee — practiced last week there and played with the backups.
"He did a really nice job in the game," Saleh said. “He took over half the snaps, he looks like he's in much better shape, obviously, so we're giving him a run at right tackle. We'll see how he does.”
NOTES: RB Dalvin Cook is back with the team after the birth of his child over the weekend, but won’t play against the Giants as he works his way onto the practice field. ... RB Breece Hall also won’t play after being activated last week from the physically unable to perform list and practicing for the first time since tearing the ACL in his left knee. ... Saleh said Brown is having his shoulder evaluated and could be back this week if all checks out. ... DE Carl Lawson remains out with a back issue. Saleh said the Jets are being “diligent” with it. ... RG Alijah Vera-Tucker (ankle) and LG Laken Tomlinson (leg) returned to practice and should be ready to play this week. ... WR Corey Davis remains out while dealing with what Saleh said is a personal matter. ... Rookie OL Joe Tippmann (left knee) should return for Week 1. ... Rookie RB Israel Abanikanda will be out a few weeks with a bruised thigh.
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