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Rodgers Remains Upbeat About Sputtering Offense

When will the usually high-powered Packers offense turn the tables on the defense? “I don’t know if we’re going to,” Aaron Rodgers said on Tuesday at training camp.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – After Practice 1 of Green Bay Packers training camp, MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers predicted the offense would get its “butts kicked most days” in training camp by a talented, veteran defense.

That’s exactly what’s happened.

Rodgers got a front-row seat to it on Tuesday. Given a rest day, he watched Jordan Love and the No. 1 offense spin its wheels for the better part of 90 minutes.

When will the Rodgers-led offense finally turn the tables?

“I don’t know if we’re going to,” Rodgers said. “I mean, they’re a talented bunch. I’d like to stalemate every day. I think that’s possible.”

Green Bay’s defense, a group without a weakness in the starting lineup, has dominated period after period after period, whether it’s a scripted period with a mix of first-, second- and third-down plays or specialized periods such as third down and red zone.

The offensive line, down premier starters David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins, has been as holy as the kitchen colander used to strain spaghetti noodles. The receiver corps, sent reeling by the offseason of Davante Adams, has struggled to get players open in timely fashion. The running game has been fine at times and rookie receiver Romeo Doubs has made a series of plays. But, when it comes to stringing together successful plays, a necessity in playing winning offense, consistent success has been elusive.

After year after year after year of the offense dominating these training camp practices, the change has been jolting. Rodgers is the four-time MVP quarterback used to dismantling whatever challenges were thrown at him by former defensive coordinators Dom Capers and Mike Pettine. With overwhelming firepower, Joe Barry’s defense has made Rodgers look like just another quarterback.

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For what it’s worth, Rodgers says he’s not worried and is actually encouraged despite what seems like a lack of tangible progress. Frustration has been evident on the practice field at times but this school-of-hard-knocks camp, in his mind, is just what is needed to get prepared for the regular season.

“I think it’s important,” he said. “How we deal with adversity is how we reveal the character of our football team. Especially on offense. We need to take our lumps and figure out what kind of football team we’re going to be. So, I love it. It’s great. It feels good, the defense having that confidence. There’s been some training camps [where] we’ve beat the hell out of them. And it doesn’t do great for their confidence.

“But when they’re confident and Joe is opening up the playbook and running a bunch of crazy stuff at us, it’s great. Because we’d love to see from an offensive standpoint, be as aggressive as you possibly can. And we’ll take care of our business. But you guys be aggressive and attack. And when it looks good against us, I think it’s going to look good against other people, too.”

The offseason story line was centered on the team’s transition from the All-Pro Adams. How would the offense be able to function without one of the NFL’s premier playmakers? And that’s a legit question. But the major issue all along has been the offensive line. Can the offense function well enough without two of the league’s best blockers to stay in contention until one or both return?

At this point, the Packers figure to go into the season with Yosh Nijman at left tackle, Jon Runyan at left guard, Josh Myers at center, Jake Hanson or Royce Newman at right guard and Zach Tom or Newman at right tackle. Combined, those six players have started 46 games – 16 apiece by Runyan and Newman, eight by Nijman and six by Myers.

Their success will power whatever amount of success the offense has to start the season.

“When we’re getting after it up front and running the ball — which we have on certain days — it allows us to get after them a little bit in the passing game,” Rodgers said. “But we’ve got three really talented corners, we’ve got two backers who can really fly, so it’s going to be tight windows in the passing game. Got a bunch of young guys playing.

“But I feel like if we run the ball effectively, which we have a few days where I feel like we’re really gotten after them up front, that’s good for us. But I want us to take our lumps. If we’re taking our lumps this training camp, it’s going to be probably a little easier once we get to the real thing.”

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