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LaFleur Dodges Rodgers’ Questions, Likes Love’s Progress

With Aaron Rodgers physically and metaphorically thousands of miles away from Green Bay, it was the Jordan Love Show at Packers OTAs.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur watched Aaron Rodgers’ highly anticipated interview on Kenny Mayne’s final SportsCenter on Monday night.

LaFleur, however, wasn’t about to share any thoughts on Rodgers’ critique that the organization has forgotten that the people are the reason for its sustained success.

“I thought just like Aaron said, that was a heck of a tribute to Kenny Mayne, and it was pretty cool that he went on there for him,” LaFleur said after Tuesday's organized team activity. “Growing up, Kenny was definitely one of my favorites watching on SportsCenter.”

Following the second of 12 offseason practices, LaFleur said the only things he could say on the saga that could make or break a championship contender.

One, he reiterated his desire to have another season with Rodgers as his quarterback.

“Aaron definitely knows how we feel about him, how he’s such an important part to our football team, such an important part to our organization,” he said. “We’re just going to continue to try to work through this and, hopefully, can get him back in the building at some point.”

Two, for the players who are present for these voluntary practices, LaFleur told them in a team meeting to focus on themselves and not the absence of the MVP quarterback.

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“That is something that we did talk about briefly with our team,” LaFleur said. “I think you’ve always got to address any of the noise that’s out there, but certainly the message is just ‘control what you can control,’ try to be the best player each and every day, attack it with the right mindset, a great attitude, great energy and just try to get better as a player.”

So, with Rodgers thousands of miles away from Green Bay physically as well as mentally, LaFleur turned his attention to the quarterbacks who were present and available. LaFleur split the team in half, meaning Jordan Love ran the starting offense while Kurt Benkert ran a unit of younger players.

How did Love do? The stats – 14-of-20 in seven-on-seven periods – are irrelevant. The tempo was brisk but hardly at 100 percent. With the players not in pads, the pass rush wasn’t real. Love often played slow, which might have been by design to focus on working through progressions. Moreover, the offense was without its top five receivers and the defense was without its starting cornerbacks.

Love did cap the day with a well-placed bullet to Juwann Winfree on a slant against rookie cornerback Eric Stokes.

“I think the ball is really jumping out of his hands well right now,” LaFleur said. “You know, it’s Day 2 of OTAs. We had some 7-on-7 but you guys could see the team periods, they’re not full speed. We’re excited about some of the progress we’ve seen with him but certainly there’s a long way to go there.”

What was evident is Love seemed more comfortable, which stands to reason. Remember, there were no offseason practices last year due to COVID-19, so his first reps with his teammates came during an abbreviated training camp. Love’s been a member of the Packers for one year, one month and two days. While they weren’t in games, he’s run a lot of plays and thrown a lot of passes during that span.

“Just a guy that’s eager to continue to grow and learn,” was LaFleur’s impression. “I love his attitude and how he attacks it on a daily basis. He’s definitely matured over the course of the year. You can tell he’s put in the time this offseason, not only lifting and running and coming in in good football shape, but also you can tell he’s put in the time in his craft in trying to continue to work on his mechanics, his fundamentals that are so critical to playing the position at the highest level possible. So, he’s still got a lot to learn. I think he can tell you that, but he’s going to take it one day at a time. He goes out there with purpose. I like his mindset right now.”