Rich ChiminiESPN staff writer2 min read
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — Aaron Rodgers’ long-awaited debut Saturday night was brief but effective — and barely touched.
In other words, it was a successful night for the New York Jets, who faced the New York Giants in their annual preseason game at MetLife Stadium.
Saying “you can’t be afraid of a coach,” coach Robert Saleh played the 39-year-old quarterback in the Jets’ final exhibition game because he wanted him to acclimate himself to the court and his new teammates before the season opener – a decision that sent shivers through the fanbase. Which has seen many quarterback injuries over the years.
Rodgers played only two series – a total of nine snaps – and finished his shortened night with a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jarrett Wilson. The four-time MVP, in his first preseason game since 2018, was replaced by backup Zach Wilson. It was a passing night for Rodgers, who completed five of eight attempts for 47 yards. It was pressed twice. The Giants scored with two hits up the middle, but they were more like touchdowns, not actual hits. It was not thrown to the ground once.
Things got a little heated. On the play before the touchdown, Rodgers and linebacker Jihad Ward exchanged words after Ward caught him after completing it in front of wide receiver Mikul Hardman. After the touchdown throw to Wilson, Rodgers responded with some words to Ward.
It was a Giants home game, but there were a lot of Jets fans at home. They gave Rodgers a standing ovation as he walked down the court to get the Jets’ first possession.
Rodgers pressed a wide receiver on Wilson, who made his way 10 yards. Rodgers and Wilson developed an instant chemistry in training camp, and brought it into the match. Wilson caught all three balls from Rodgers, for a total of 30 yards.
The touchdown was a textbook back-shoulder pass, as Wilson beat rookie linebacker Jamon Green. The coverage was strong – just a yard – but it was an old pass from Rodgers, or an arrow from a narrow window.
Rodgers played behind four-fifths of the Jets’ primary offensive line. The only key player missing was tackle Duane Brown, who is expected to play against the Buffalo Bills in the opener. Fullbacks Dalvin Cook and Bryce Hall also came out. They are also expected for the first week.
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