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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers moved one step closer to an improbable early comeback as he returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis -- exactly 11 weeks after surgery to repair a torn Achilles.

Rodgers was cleared for "functional football activity" but not contact, according to coach Robert Saleh, who called this "a progression in his rehab." Saleh said it's too soon to say whether Rodgers will play again this season.

By rule, the Jets have 21 days to decide whether to activate Rodgers from injured reserve. The period expires Dec. 20, four days before they face the Washington Commanders -- the game he's targeting for a return.

Rodgers, wearing a red quarterback jersey, participated in a series of quarterback drills during the open portion of practice -- relatively light work.

"Give me your doubts, give me your prognostications and then watch what I do," Rodgers said two days after his surgery, adding that he would "shock a lot of people" based on his ambitious rehab program.

The four-time MVP was in an unusual position -- the fourth quarterback in a four-man rotation for drills.

Rodgers, who turns 40 on Saturday, is recovering at an extraordinary pace, but this doesn't mean he's a lock to play. Saleh said the team is "so far away" from having to make that decision.

No NFL player has returned from Achilles surgery before the five-month mark. Rodgers will be 3½ months removed from surgery on December 24, when the Jets play the Commanders.

Rodgers, acquired in an offseason trade with the Green Bay Packers, was injured on the fourth play of the season. He was replaced by Zach Wilson, who started the next nine games before being benched in favor of journeyman Tim Boyle. Boyle will make his second start Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

LOOK: The story behind every NFL team name

Stacker delved into the story behind every NFL football team name. Overall team records, also included, are reflective of NFL regular-season games. There are some football teams with well-known nicknames—the Jets, for instance, are often referred to as Gang Green—but we also divulge how some teams’ official names are sparingly used (the Jets’ neighbors, the Giants, are actually known as the New York Football Giants). Sometimes a team name can tell you a lot about local history: The Vikings of Minnesota draw upon the area’s strong ties to Scandinavia, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are dripping in local legend related to Florida’s pirate past.

Let’s kick off the countdown with the folks who earned their nickname by buying boxes of used team jerseys.

Gallery Credit: Seth Berkman

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