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Rodgers Will Skip Final Week of OTAs, Focus on Training Camp

Doesn’t the Packers’ revamped receiver corps need Aaron Rodgers on the practice field to build chemistry? “Those are just story fillers,” he said.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Aaron Rodgers’ participation in the Green Bay Packers’ offseason program will be limited to this week’s minicamp.

“I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” Rodgers said to laughter after Tuesday’s practice.

Rodgers will skip next week’s practices, the final week of the voluntary organized team activities, meaning the connection and chemistry with his new fleet of receivers will have to be built during training camp.

That’s perhaps not ideal from coach Matt LaFleur’s perspective, who last week said, “I want everybody here.” But Rodgers won MVP in 2020, when COVID wiped out the entire offseason program, and 2021, when he skipped the entire offseason amid his dispute with management. So, what he’s doing works for him. When training camp arrives in late July, Rodgers will be ready.

But what about the rest of the team? At receiver, All-Pro Davante Adams, big-play Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown left this offseason, replaced by veteran Sammy Watkins and draft picks Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure. That’s a massive amount of upheaval for a team that could go into Week 1 with only Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb as proven receivers.

“I think a lot of times those are just story fillers for slow times in the offseason,” Rodgers said. “There’s important conversations to be had, but it comes down to the willingness of those players to motivate themselves, to be good note-takers, to listen, to remember things, and it’s on me to make sure the message is very clear and concise to them when it’s delivered.

“Jason (Vrable, the receivers coach and passing game coordinator) has to be an extension of me and my voice in their room. We’ve got my closest buddy on the team with those guys every single day, Randall Cobb, and he’s been here the entire time just about. So, he’s passing along everything they need to know about playing with me and expectations and signals and unspoken communication and non-verbal stuff. They’ve just got to feel me once we get back for training camp and it gets real.”

That’s nice that Rodgers can rely on others to pass along his message. Whether that will be enough for the first key moments of early-season games remains to be seen.

For now, everyone is agreement: The new receivers need to learn the playbook. From that perspective, Rodgers’ presence or absence doesn’t really matter. Where the chemistry becomes more important is when the play that’s outlined on the players’ iPads comes to life on the field.

“There’s obviously a learning curve,” said veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis, who is entering his fifth season alongside Rodgers. “They’re going to have to continue staying in the book but ‘12’ has his own playbook.”

That playbook, which includes the line-of-scrimmages adjustments that Rodgers makes to attack the defense that’s presented, can’t be run until the players learn the basics. LaFleur hasn’t even installed the full offense. That process will be completed during next week’s OTAs.

So, while the rookies get their introductions to the rest of the offense next week, Rodgers will return home to prepare on his own. When training camp begins, the young and the old will come together and attempt to do what they haven’t done since 2010: play in a Super Bowl.

“The most important thing is the mental part right now,” Rodgers said. “As much as there’s conversation around the importance of me being here and how much that means to the young guys, the most important thing for the young guys right now is to learn the offense. Like I’ve said many times, there’s two offenses. There’s the offense on paper and then there’s the offense that gets run on the field. They need to learn the offense on paper first, and once they get that down, then we’ll have plenty of time in training camp to get the other offense down.”

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