Watch Jordan Love one day and he will look miles away from being the Green Bay Packers’ starting quarterback. Come back the next day and he will look ready right now.
Such was the case for Love’s first two days of the team’s mandatory minicamp — its first without camp holdout Aaron Rodgers. How does that bode for Love’s chances if he has to start the regular-season opener Sept. 12 at New Orleans should Rodgers’ tenure with Green Bay be finished?
Love said he will be ready.
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“A hundred percent,” Love said when asked if he is prepared to be the Week 1 starter. “Obviously, this is a time where I’m getting a lot of extremely valuable reps that I might not have been getting in a normal circumstance. So I’m just going to take it day by day. … But yeah, that’s what I’m here for. I was drafted here to play quarterback, so I’ll definitely be ready Week 1.”
The Packers’ 2020 first-round pick, the one they traded up to get and therefore start the clock on Rodgers’ eventual end in Green Bay, sure looked ready on Wednesday.
One day after he struggled with accuracy and completed barely more than half of his throws, Love shined.
It started with a 30-yard pass down the right sideline to running back AJ Dillon and got better from there. There was a Rodgers-like free play for a 45-yard deep ball to Allen Lazard, a deep corner route dropped perfectly into the hands of wide receiver Juwann Winfree for another 30-yard pickup and a carbon copy of the Dillon throw to Aaron Jones for another 30.
Love was so hot with his throws that at one point tight ends coach Justin Outten pretended to use his play card as a fan to cool off the quarterback.
“Listen, you can never get too high and never too low in this game,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said after practice. “One of the biggest emphases for Jordan is just to treat each play as its own entity. We’re always grading the decision-making, the timing, the accuracy, and we want to see the consistency just continue to get better and better.”
Love completed 20 of 31 passes during 11-on-11 periods Tuesday, including 7-for-10 during a drill-winning two-minute drive that he capped with an 8-yard touchdown pass to an outstretched Lazard in the back of the end zone.
LaFleur continued his practice of giving Love most of the work. Rather than dividing reps with Blake Bortles and Kurt Benkert, LaFleur has allowed Love to stay on the field for long stretches. During one period Tuesday, Love took 16 straight snaps. His longest stint Wednesday was 10 straight plays.
This after Love took only minimal reps last year as the third-string quarterback.
“Every day is a new learning experience,” LaFleur said. “And when you have limited reps and you weren’t getting the bulk of the reps all throughout the course of the season — and this is never an excuse; it’s just reality, right? There [was] no preseason [last year], so there’s just a ton of learning that’s going on.
“It’s great to see when he does have success because again that will build the confidence, and that’s really what we’re looking for. But also, it’s everybody else around him, too. When they’re playing at a high level, it makes that guy’s job a lot easier.”
The crash-course approach is LaFleur’s insurance in case Rodgers continues his holdout into training camp and beyond.
Love admitted that he doesn’t know what to expect from Rodgers and said he was “just as surprised as you guys” that Rodgers skipped minicamp.
By all accounts, Rodgers and Love forged a strong working relationship last year even though Rodgers admitted that Love’s arrival likely changed the way he envisioned his career would end. In fact, Rodgers said last month on SportsCenter that his issue has never been with Love but rather is about an organizational philosophy he believes has strayed from its foundation.
Love said he has stayed in touch with Rodgers throughout the offseason; in fact, they spoke shortly before Love arrived in Green Bay for OTAs last month but declined to reveal the specifics of their conversation.
“I’ve just been living my life, man, trying to do what I can do to get better in this offseason and obviously not knowing what’s going to happen next,” Love said in his first session with team reporters since Aug. 20. “My main thing’s been controlling what I can control and do my best to get better every day so that I’m ready whatever the circumstance may be come [the start of] the season. Just do my best to be ready for myself, for the team and for everybody here.”
Love said that would have been his approach whether Rodgers was around or not.
This way, however, he’s getting a whole lot more work.
“My mindset this whole offseason’s been to get ready, get myself ready, and that’s been my mindset since I got here,” Love said. “Whether Aaron was here or not here, that’s going to be my mindset regardless, because I have to get myself ready to play and be able to go out there and take charge of the team and be able to perform at a high level and do my best so everybody else can do their jobs as well and just be able to perform at a high level.”
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