GREEN BAY, Wis. – With Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers nowhere near Clarke Hinkle Practice Field, the team’s hand-picked successor at quarterback struggled while the veteran with the ugly release made the biggest play of Day 1 of minicamp.
Tuesday’s practice was highlighted by a series of two-minute drills. With 1:35 on the clock, one timeout and the offense needing to drive 70 yards, Love picked up two first downs on passes to running back Aaron Jones and receiver Juwann Winfrey.
The drive stalled from there, though. With the ball on the defense’s 49, Love’s first-down pass to Allen Lazard was deflected at the line of scrimmage. That happens. However, an easy pass in the flat was thrown too high to tight end Robert Tonyan on second down and, after a dumpoff to running back Patrick Taylor gained 3 yards, his fourth-and-7 hole shot to receiver Malik Taylor was thrown well over his head. It was the right read, with Taylor finding a void in the zone defense along the sideline, but Love’s pass wasn’t remotely catchable.
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“We’ve just got to go back and fine-comb the video and make sure that his fundamentals, his footwork, his body position is in the right spot to make an accurate throw. And that’s exactly what we’ll do right after this,” coach Matt LaFleur said after practice.
After his first two-minute drive resulted in three straight incompletions, veteran Blake Bortles did what Love failed to do – find the end zone – with his second opportunity. A couple of checkdowns to running back Mike Weber got the ball near midfield before a gain of about 15 to rookie receiver Amari Rodgers. On first down from the defense’s 35, Bortles stepped up in the pocket and found tight end Isaac Nauta streaking up the left sideline for the winning touchdown. Bortles’ release – his right elbow dips down and then back up – is funky, to say the least.
While Love is one of three quarterbacks on the roster, you’d hardly know it. During the “live” 11-on-11 periods, Love took the first 16 snaps, Kurt Benkert directed the next two plays, and Love was back in for another nine snaps. At training camp last summer, a typical rotation had Rodgers with four snaps, Tim Boyle with four snaps, Rodgers with four more snaps and Love the next three or four.
“He needs every rep he can get right now,” LaFleur said. “He’s a young quarterback that was not afforded a preseason last year, and so, we’ll give him as many as he can handle. We’ll spell him every now and again, but I just think every rep that he takes is so valuable, and he can learn something from both the good and the bad.”
Unofficially, Love was 12-of-23 passing. Moreover, there were no noteworthy completions in the bunch. In one sequence, he threw three consecutive incomplete passes to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. They might not have been on the same page on the first, a wobbly pass to the sideline was behind Valdes-Scantling and broken up by Jaire Alexander, and a deep ball didn’t have a prayer against the bracket coverage provided by cornerback Kevin King and safety Will Redmond.