Jets' Aaron Rodgers still aiming to return to practice around his 40th birthday next month

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers hopes to celebrate his 40th birthday by returning to practice.

The New York Jets quarterback continues to recover from a torn left Achilles tendon suffered four snaps into his debut with the team on Sept. 11. But Rodgers confirmed Tuesday during his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” he has his sights set on getting back on the field in two weeks.

“Obviously, we’re way ahead of common protocol,” Rodgers said.

The four-time NFL MVP turns 40 on Dec. 2, which Fox Sports reported over the weekend is a target date for Rodgers.

“I’ve said that I’d love to be trending toward practicing by my birthday,” Rodgers confirmed.

The Jets play a home game against Atlanta on Dec. 3, so it's more likely Rodgers would return three days later.

That is, if he's cleared to do so by doctors. Since Rodgers is on injured reserve, the Jets would have 21 days from his first practice to activate him.

Rodgers, who acknowledged he feels “personal guilt” for getting injured, has also said the Jets (4-6) remaining in playoff contention is a condition of his return this season. New York benched Zach Wilson, who'll be replaced by Tim Boyle as the starting quarterback Friday against Miami.

“We need a spark and, obviously, this was the decision that was made,” Rodgers said. “I feel for Zach. I love Zach. Zach’s such a great kid and I think he still has a bright future in the league.

“This has been a tough go for all of us. A lot of times in these situations, there are certain guys that are the scapegoat. I think there’s enough blame to go around at a number of different positions."

Without Rodgers, the Jets have struggled mightily on offense, ranking among the NFL's worst in several categories.

Meanwhile, Rodgers — who reportedly had a “speed bridge” procedure on his Achilles tendon to expedite his recovery — has been working toward trying to make what would be an unprecedented fast return.

He said despite the Jets' struggles, he continues to “push it as hard as we can” each day in his rehabilitation. Rodgers is working on strengthening his left heel and calf, in particular. That includes jogging on an anti-gravity treadmill, a video of which he sent to the Jets to show how far he has come physically.

“The jogging, I think has exponentially improved the strength, and then it has kind of sped up," Rodgers said of his rehabilitation. "Things have progressed pretty nicely these last few weeks.”