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Kirk Cousins spoke to Aaron Rodgers, used him as ‘benchmark’ in Achilles rehab process

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Quarterback Kirk Cousins has taken some hard hits in his NFL career, but he never needed surgery to repair an injury he sustained until Week 8 of the 2023 campaign. 

Cousins suffered a torn Achilles, and in a flash, his season was done with surgery imminent to repair the ligament. 

“It’s uncharted territory for me,” Cousins told Fox News Digital one day after the offseason workout period came to an end with his new team, the Atlanta Falcons.

Cousins found a new home in the NFL in free agency a few months back, but the veteran signal caller was not worried about that in late October 2023, when he knew he needed to go under the knife, and take on a rehab process he knew nothing about after the fact. 

It is a scary thought for anyone, let alone a 35-year-old quarterback, to think about the daunting recovery process ahead. However, Cousins took things in stride and got some help from others, including New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers. 

Rodgers, of course, tore his Achilles four plays into his new tenure with the Jets and was already in his own recovery process when Cousins tore his seven weeks later. 

FALCONS LOSE DRAFT PICK, FINED BY NFL FOR TAMPERING DURING KIRK COUSINS PURSUIT

“Aaron’s a couple months ahead of me,” said Cousins, who also discussed how he “recharges the batteries” during his summer on his Manitou Pontoon Boat in Michigan before training camp. “I reached out to him before surgery back in late October, and we had a good conversation.”

With Rodgers specifically, Cousins explained how he would use him as a “benchmark” for his recovery, giving him a “good indicator of where you can be in two months.”

There is also looking at those who recovered from their Achilles. 

Aaron Rodgers before an NFL game

“I like talking to people who are four, five, six years removed from an Achilles tear,” he said. “When I looked up people who’d torn one, it’s more common than I’d realized – among the NBA, among former quarterbacks. Athletes in general, and guys who went on to have success post-Achilles tear. So, it was encouraging to see the careers people have had before and after an Achilles tear.”

When Cousins had his recovery process broken down for him, he said it was a nine-month journey before he could really get back on the field and start going through drills. That was supposed to be Aug. 1 of this year. 

“They said that you don’t really feel back to yourself until 12 months, but you can be back on the field sooner than that,” Cousins said. “I had hoped to be back sooner than nine months, but wasn’t sure. At OTAs, we had these practices, and when I first got injured, they said, ‘You’ll sit out of those practices, but training camp you’ll be good to go.’”

However, when it came time to join his Falcons teammates for OTAs, Cousins was seen with his red jersey, black helmet and on the field throwing the ball. As he put it, a “positive process.”

“I wasn’t going a million miles an hour, but I was able to get those reps and I felt like that really helped me get to know my teammates, get to know the system, get comfortable,” he said. “That was a step in the right direction. Now, over the summer break, it’s about continuing the rehab, so I can get closer to full speed by training camp and certainly by Week 1.”

Kirk Cousins on the sidelines

For a competitor such as Cousins, it is hard not being able to go full speed, especially in a new situation. However, the one fundamental part about Achilles recovery that he has learned – and still learns about every day – is how there is a tightrope to walk in terms of pushing the body to get back to full strength. 

“They told me when I first injured it that you have this line in your rehab that you want to push up against,” he said, picking up his hands and putting them close together. “You’re not going to get back fast if you are back here and not pushing it. But you cannot cross the line, because when you cross the line, you also set yourself back. 

“So, it’s been this dance of trying to figure out am I pushing it enough where I’m asking my body to take that next step in the healing process? But am I pushing too hard, also, and trying to go up against that line and not cross it? That really is the definition of good quality rehab, so I’ve been trying to find that since day one.”

The Falcons saw enough back in March when they dished out a four-year deal to Cousins worth $180 million with $100 million guaranteed. However, neither party will truly know how he will be on the gridiron in year 13 coming off his toughest injury yet. 

Cousins continues to work toward that moment where he can prove he is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league, one who can lead the Falcons back to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. 

Kirk Cousins looks to pass

In doing so, perhaps Cousins can be the one others call for advice on how to get to the point of success post-Achilles tear. 

“I’m hoping to be able to add my name to that list,” Cousins said with a grin. 

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