Sauce Gardner defends Aaron Rodgers

Sauce Gardner defends Aaron Rodgers

Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner has defended his teammate and quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ absence from the team’s mandatory two-day minicamp on social media just days after head coach Robert Saleh said otherwise.

Taking to X on Thursday night, Gardner, 23, seemed irritated with all the questions on the ‘mysterious’ event that the 40-year-old Rodgers absolutely wanted to attend this week at the expense of spending more time with his teammates on Wednesday and Thursday.

Gardner, who’s grown to be close with Rodgers, tweeted: ‘Are y’all really making a big deal because a 15+ year HOF QB missed 2 days of practice after being with the team all throughout Phase 1, 2 & 3 of OTA’s?? GG’s.’

Rodgers’ surprising no-show comes a little less than two months before the Jets’ first pre-season game against the Washington Commanders on August 10. 

The Super Bowl champion and four-time league MVP is subject to $50,861 in fines for going AWOL along with edge rusher Haason Reddick.

Rodgers is the subject of $50,861 in fines for going AWOL

Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner has downplayed Aaron Rodgers’ absence from the team’s mandatory two-day minicamp on Thursday

Gardner, 23, slammed critics for 'making a big deal' out of his quarterback's absence on X

Gardner, 23, slammed critics for ‘making a big deal’ out of his quarterback’s absence on X 

Saleh said Rodgers was away for a previous commitment that ‘is very important to him’ – and something he told the team about ahead of time. Meanwhile, Reddick’s absence appears to stem from a contract issue.

On Wednesday, Saleh was asked specifically whether Rodgers was aware the team would term his absence as ‘unexcused.’

‘I talked about it yesterday, but Aaron and I are on the exact same page,’ Saleh said. ‘There’s no issue between Aaron – or his teammates, for that matter. So, like I said, we addressed it yesterday. It’s more of an issue for everyone outside the building than it is inside.

‘And that’s about it.’

Saleh reiterated that Rodgers had made the team aware of his plans in advance, but backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor said Tuesday he only learned he would be leading the starting offense earlier that morning. That implied neither Rodgers nor the Jets told Taylor – and perhaps his other teammates – that Rodgers would not attend the minicamp sessions.

‘It’s a one-on-one conversation,’ Saleh said of his chat with Rodgers. ‘That’s not something the team needed to know about.’

Jets head coach Robert Saleh said Rodgers' absence was unexcused but he had known about it

Jets head coach Robert Saleh said Rodgers’ absence was unexcused but he had known about it

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Rodgers, whose whereabouts were not disclosed by Saleh, attended the Jets’ voluntary offseason workouts and practices while coming back from a torn left Achilles tendon that ended his season after just four snaps last year.

‘He’s been here for the majority of practices that weren’t mandatory,’ cornerback D.J. Reed said. ‘I think I saw something that said Coach said A.R. had something important he had to attend. That’s our quarterback and if it’s important to him, it’s important to us.

‘It’s really not a big deal.’

But, despite the Jets’ coaching staff playing it cool with Rodgers over his absence, the team’s front office execs are believed to be angry with their star quarterback, as they are considering ‘tightening his leash,’ a source exclusively revealed to Mail Sport.

Rodgers, 40, warming up with teammates during practice at Florham Park, New Jersey, in May

Rodgers, 40, warming up with teammates during practice at Florham Park, New Jersey, in May

Sportscaster Colin Cowherd has claimed that Rodgers is on ‘vacation overseas’. 

Earlier this month, Rodgers appeared to ignore former US President Donald Trump at a UFC event just weeks after refusing to become Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s running mate for his 2024 election bid.

He has also said that he doesn’t want to ‘go out as a bum’ after an injury-riddled first season in New York. 

Rodgers also praised Vladimir Putin in a bizarre interview with Tucker Carlson in May, calling Russia’s president ‘thoughtful and smart’ while lamenting Joe Biden as U.S. President. 

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