FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – It all now seems officially real for the New York Jets.
Aaron Rodgers strolled into the team's facility Wednesday with the rest of his raring-to-go teammates — veterans and rookies — and reported for training camp for the first time with the franchise that made the stunning trade for him in April.
The Jets tweeted a photo of Rodgers wearing his green and white jersey — instead of the red no-contact practice version he wore during offseason workouts — for the first time, adding: “This is not an AI-generated photo.”
Nope, no more clever edits needed. Rodgers is in camp and so is a throng of reporters, cameras and the film crew from HBO's “Hard Knocks.”
“I'm not going to lie,” cornerback D.J. Reed said. “The energy does feel different. It definitely feels like there's more excitement coming into this year.”
It has been that way since general manager Joe Douglas swung the deal to acquire the four-time NFL MVP from Green Bay and give New York its most accomplished quarterback since the trade for Brett Favre in 2008.
Rodgers has insisted he's no savior. Expectations, though, have been raised to lofty levels for the Jets.
“Obviously, we have a big name in Aaron Rodgers here," linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "And on his first day here, you can kind of feel a lot of screws and bolts tighten up and the anticipation coming into this offseason and this camp.”
The Jets have the NFL's longest postseason drought at 12 years — a skid that appeared would end last season before Robert Saleh's squad lost its final six games to finish 7-10.
Rodgers made it clear at his introductory news conference in April and then throughout the offseason he's here to win and the goal remains the Super Bowl. That would appear to be quite the leap for a team that hasn't sniffed the playoffs in so long.
But that's the kind of optimism Rodgers creates. And all the attention that comes with it.
“Bringing a guy like him in the building just excites everybody in general because of the resumé he has, the character he is, the guy that he is," defensive tackle Quinnen Williams said. “He just brings a spark to everybody.”
Saleh insisted last month the Jets had no interest being the subject of this summer's “Hard Knocks,” but it's easy to see why HBO and NFL Films wanted them to star in the reality sports documentary.
Rodgers undoubtedly will be the main focus, but the Jets are loaded with training camp story lines that begin when they become the first NFL team to begin practices Thursday.
That lengthy list includes: Saleh looking to steer the team toward the playoffs in his third season; a new offensive coordinator in Nathaniel Hackett, who oversaw Green Bay's offense when Rodgers won his last two MVP awards; the sophomore seasons of cornerback Sauce Gardner and wide receiver Garrett Wilson, the defensive and offensive rookies of the year, respectively; running back Breece Hall's return from a knee injury; and quarterback Zach Wilson's development sitting behind Rodgers.
“We've got one goal in life and we've all got one goal this year, personal goals and big goals," Williams said. “Hard Knocks or any other media don’t really derail those goals. We are focused on getting better every single day, focused on making it to the playoffs, winning the Super Bowl — like every other team in the NFL focuses on."
New York has 16-to-1 odds to win the big game, according to FanDuel. Only six teams have better odds: Kansas City, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Cincinnati, San Francisco and Dallas.
The fact the Jets are even in that conversation is something different around these parts. And, again, a lot of that has to do with Rodgers leading the way.
“When people hear the New York Jets, they usually were going to think losses, or now when they hear the New York Jets, they’re going to think automatic Super Bowl,” Mosley said. “We can’t think that way. We've got to stay focused, we've got to stay grounded and take this camp one day at a time."
NOTES: The Jets signed first-round pick DE Will McDonald and second-rounder C Joe Tippmann to put all seven of their draft selections under contract before the first practice of camp. ... Hall was placed on the PUP list, along with WR Randall Cobb, TE C.J. Uzomah and rookie DB Jarrick Bernard-Converse. They can be activated at any point in camp. ... S Chuck Clark and WR Diontae Spencer were placed on season-ending injured reserve. ... Williams said he had no doubts his four-year, $96 million contract extension would be done before camp. “We were all on the same page from the whole entire thing,” said Williams, whose deal includes $66 million in guarantees.