Rodgers recovering from knee surgery

Updated: March 15, 2004, 9:34 PM ET
Associated Press

BERKELEY, Calif. -- California quarterback Aaron Rodgers will miss spring practice as he recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery, but the junior is expected to be at full strength by fall camp.

Rodgers said Monday he battled pain in his left knee all last season, when the Golden Bears went 8-6 and beat Virginia Tech 52-49 in the Insight Bowl in the school's first postseason appearance since 1996.

"My biggest thing is I didn't want it to be an excuse for a loss or a bad game," Rodgers said of why he didn't discuss the knee problem during the season.

He had surgery Jan. 7 to repair a torn ligament in his left knee.

"I'm taking it kind of slow," he said. "I feel like I'm definitely improving strength wise. I will take mental reps and continue to learn the offense. I still haven't mastered the offense. I'm close."

Rodgers, a transfer from Butte College in Oroville, Calif., didn't start until Week 5 last season. He then emerged as one of the Pac-10's bright young stars.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Rodgers completed 61.6 percent of his passes (215-of-349) for 2,903 yards and 19 touchdowns in 13 games. He threw only five interceptions. In the bowl game, he went 27-of-35 for 394 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for two scores on the way to earning the game's offensive MVP award.

Coach Jeff Tedford will closely watch redshirt freshman quarterback Cary Dove this spring. Dove is likely to be the third QB behind Rodgers and backup Reggie Robertson.

Rodgers will be able to do limited work, such as individual throwing drills.

"He's ahead of schedule in his rehab," Tedford said. "He starting to jog and feels good about where he is. It was the right time to get it fixed."

The quarterbacks should be happy with their targets, too.

Star wideout Geoff McArthur returns after a breakout junior season in which he caught 85 passes for a school record 1,504 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Also, Cal expects to have Jonathan Makonnen back. The Pac-10 has approved a medical redshirt for Makonnen, who had surgery on his left foot last Sept. 30 and missed the remainder of the season.

Rodgers is just one of about a dozen players who will be sidelined while working back from offseason operations. The Bears' offensive line is beat up, which will force Tedford to be creative in how he runs drills.

"The key for us right now is to get 100 percent," Tedford said. "I know what they can do once they get back."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press