Aaron Rodgers capped his second series with the New York Jets by tossing a 14-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson in the first quarter of his preseason debut against the Giants on Saturday night.
After completing three of his five passes for 23 yards on his first drive, Rodgers opened the next drive with a handoff to Michael Carter and then overthrew a pass to C.J. Uzomah. His toss on third down fell incomplete to Wilson, but Amani Oruwariye was called for pass interference — putting the ball at the Giants 24.
Rodgers then completed a 10-yard quick toss to Mecole Hardman and followed with a perfectly placed pass to Wilson in the left corner of the end zone with 8:23 left in the opening quarter.
That was it for Rodgers, who went 5 for 8 for 47 yards and the TD in his two series before being replaced by Zach Wilson on the Jets' third offensive series.
Wearing his white No. 8 Jets jersey for the first time in a game, Rodgers jogged onto the field before kickoff to a nice ovation from the "road" fans at MetLife Stadium in the annual exhibition between the teams that share the stadium as their home.
Rodgers came out throwing immediately, tossing a quick screen to Garrett Wilson for 10 yards — and a personal foul on the Giants' Zyon Gilbert put the ball on the Jets 46.
Aaron Rodgers #8 of the New York Jets waits in the tunnel prior to a preseason game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on August 26, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Rodgers completed a 14-yard pass to Tyler Conklin on the Jets' second play from scrimmage, but a blindside block by Randall Cobb put the ball back at the 38.
A 6-yard completion to Garrett Wilson followed, but Rodgers' first drive ended with two incompletions — the second coming when he avoided newly acquired Isaiah Simmons' sack attempt and threw the ball away.
Jets coach Robert Saleh announced earlier in the week Rodgers would likely play a few series in the team's final tuneup for their regular-season opener against Buffalo on Sept. 11.
The four-time NFL MVP, who hadn't played in the preseason since 2018 while with Green Bay, said he was actually leaning toward asking Saleh to play against the Giants just to get some in-game work with the starters on offense.
"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."
The last preseason game in which Rodgers played was Aug. 16, 2018, when he started and went 2 of 4 for 35 yards and a touchdown in his one series against Pittsburgh.
"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."
Rodgers was acquired by the Jets from the Packers in April after 18 seasons with Green Bay.