Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur prepared for training camp, with or without Aaron Rodgers
GREEN BAY - Whether reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers shows up for training camp July 27 or remains a holdout, Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur isn’t about to let the uncertainty dictate his agenda.
LaFleur spoke with media members in a Zoom call Thursday wrapping up the offseason program and said Rodgers’ presence or absence won’t impact his overall plan with the team.
“We’ll have one plan,” LaFleur said. “We’ve pretty much laid that out. Just kind of going to fine-tune some things over the next few weeks. Just in terms of logistics of our schedule and what not. We’ve got what we feel is a pretty good blueprint in terms of how to get our guys ready to play.”
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The Packers concluded their final organized team activity for the offseason Thursday, and with Rodgers not participating throughout it led to important opportunities for second-year quarterback Jordan Love.
“Every rep for him is so critical, whether it’s on air on his own or with us in 11-on-11 situation and he’s getting that constant coaching and I think he’s done a great job embracing the whole situation, learning from every rep,” LaFleur said. “One thing we talked about after Tuesday’s practice is ‘Hey man, you’re going to have some great days, then you’re going to have some days that aren’t as great and you got to be able to ride that wave, you’re never too high or never too low.’”
LaFleur spoke about controlling what can be controlled, and in terms of Love’s preparation for the season he doesn’t feel he has needed to deviate his advice to the young quarterback despite the unusual aura of the offseason.
“It’s the same message it’s been all the time, you’re only one play away so you always have to prepare as if you’re the starter,” LaFleur said. “Just to be very intentional about the work you put in. To go out there with a purpose, be mindful in the moment.”
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Love has been thrust into uncharted waters but according to LaFleur, he has handled it admirably.
“I think Jordan came in with the right mindset,” LaFleur said. “I think (quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett) have done a great job getting him prepared and ultimately it’s going to be how do you take the classroom to individual and individual to team drills and then getting the opportunity to go out there in the preseason and show what he can do.”
With the second-year quarterback getting so much attention in preparation for potentially assuming the starting role should Rodgers not return, LaFleur acknowledged the drawbacks for fellow quarterbacks Kurt Benkert, Blake Bortles and Jacob Dolegala.
“I think the other guys, in terms of just their knowledge, have really been into it,” LaFleur said. “It’s a little bit more difficult when you’re not getting as many reps and you just have to make the most out of every opportunity when you get those. I do think the guys have done a great job of being prepared for those moments.”
Carrying four quarterbacks with one guy getting the majority of the reps might seem counter-intuitive but LaFleur explained the rationale with a bit of humor thrown in.
“I think there’s so many more components than just the 11-on-11 team drills or the 7-on-7s,” LaFleur said. “You’re throwing routes on air and as good as I like to think I can throw the ball or Getsy can throw the ball, you want NFL quarterbacks throwing those to the receivers, (running) backs, whoever they may be so you need those arms. I’m sure as we get closer to training camp things can become a little bit more clear for us and we could potentially make an adjustment there.”
The specter of Rodgers’ absence might continue to hang over the Packers, but one way or another the team has to be ready come July 27 when training camp begins.
Contact Tom Dombeck at 920-686-2965 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @Tom_Dombeck.