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Jets' Rodgers feeling better after 'procedure' for illness

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.

AP Pro Football Writer

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Kacy Rodgers missed being around the players and coaches the most while not knowing when he'd feel well enough to be back.

A health scare sidelined the New York Jets defensive coordinator for two games - a tense few weeks for Rodgers, who was medically cleared and returned to work this week on a full-time basis.

"Walking in the locker room (Sunday) and seeing the guys, it's just good to be back, it really is," Rodgers said Thursday while speaking to reporters for the first time since coming back to work.

Bowles announced on Oct. 5 that Rodgers was dealing with something "serious" after visiting the doctor the previous day. The 49-year-old Rodgers underwent tests and then had what he called "a procedure" and was able to do some office work at the team's facility last week.

"It was kind of bothering me, and it was something that we had to get checked out," Rodgers said. "So I had a procedure last Monday, and then I got the results back this Monday. Everything came back good, so we're good to go."

Rodgers declined to provide details about the exact nature of his illness, saying he preferred to keep it private.

"I really don't want to say that right now," he said. "I feel a lot better. I really do. It's good to be back and getting back in the swing of things. We knew the procedure and we felt confident going in that it would be taken care of and we would know the results."

He surprised the players by attending the Jets' victory over Indianapolis last Sunday and broke down the team's postgame huddle in the locker room.

"Sometimes you take for granted what it is to be around the guys and be with them every day," Rodgers said, "and the family unit it becomes."

Rodgers has been out on the field during practice this week, but it's uncertain if he will call the defensive plays in his usual role Sunday against Minnesota.

"Him getting back into it was easy," Bowles said. "He was in the building last week doing tedious things, but getting back into it is pretty good. He's back at game-planning normally. We are all in meetings and we will decide that probably tomorrow or Saturday who is going to call it."

After Bowles knew Rodgers wouldn't be able to coach against Denver two weeks ago, he announced the bad news to the team.

Several of the players reached out to their coach, and he thought it was "truly touching" to hear from so many well-wishers.

"I got a lot of texts from all the guys," he said before smiling. "What's kind of ironic is, I coach the defense, but I had just as many offensive guys reaching out."

But then came the tough part: watching the Jets beat the Broncos 34-16 from his couch at home.

"That's kind of a hard, hard feeling," Rodgers said.

To a man, the defensive players said they dedicated their play - and the victory - to Rodgers that day.

He felt well enough to attend the game last Sunday at MetLife Stadium and was able to mingle with the players before kickoff. Rodgers then sat in the coaches' booth while wearing the radio headset, but was only what Bowles described as "a casual observer."

"You never want to be a distraction to the team," Rodgers said. "Everybody else was having to pick up (the slack) with me away from the coaching staff. Todd had to do more and the rest of the assistants had to do more. For the players to know they've got a job to do, I feel like I'm hindering them."

It was what Rodgers called a "weird" experience and added he didn't want to be "a detriment" to the team.

After the game, several players such as Morris Claiborne, Darron Lee and Jamal Adams said seeing Rogers really lifted them up emotionally.

"That's priceless," Rodgers said. "To know they were thinking about me while they were trying to do their jobs really means a lot."

Rodgers was also able to joke about the success Bowles had running the defense in his absence - both victories.

"Dang," Rodgers said with a big laugh, "I need to stay away more often."

NOTES: CBs Buster Skrine (concussion) and Trumaine Johnson (quadriceps), WRs Terrelle Pryor (groin) and Quincy Enunwa (sprained ankle), RB Isaiah Crowell (foot) and S Marcus Maye (broken thumb) didn't practice. Only Enunwa and Maye have already been ruled out against Minnesota. ... LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (foot) was limited after sitting out Wednesday. ... WR Robby Anderson (hamstring) and Leon Williams (back) were full after not practicing Wednesday, and C Spencer Long (knee/finger) was also full after being limited. ... RB De'Angelo Henderson was re-signed to the practice squad and LB Harvey Langi was played on practice squad injured reserve.

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Updated October 18, 2018

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