Aaron Rodgers puts Clay Matthews rumors to rest; Jordan Love status uncertain for Jets game
GREEN BAY – On Friday night, Aaron Rodgers was socializing with left tackle David Bakhtiari and receiver Randall Cobb when a former teammate entered the conversation.
The three Green Bay Packers started discussing retired outside linebacker Clay Matthews. The conversation turned into a FaceTime chat with Matthews, which invariably turned into an inside joke. In an Instagram post, the three friends each beckoned Matthews to return to the Packers.
Rodgers smiled when asked if he might be asking general manager Brian Gutekunst to sign Matthews, the way he did for Cobb.
“There hasn’t been, I don’t think, a big push from any of us to sign him,” Rodgers said. “We didn’t even talk ball. We were just BS-ing with him, having a good conversation. He’s a big farmer now. He’s kind of like Jordy. He’s probably got that strength to be able to play, but I don’t think he’s thought about football in a while.”
The Instagram post drew attention after Rodgers’ comments at the start of camp regarding more involvement with matters related to his job as the Packers quarterback. In an interview with Sports Illustrated earlier this month, Gutekunst questioned how Rodgers would define his input. Is it enough to be merely listened to? Did the quarterback expect his suggestions to be put into action?
Rodgers appeared to set the expectation Wednesday of being heard, not followed.
“I think the conversation is the most important thing,” Rodgers said. “I always pride myself on being reasonable and rational. Sometimes what I think is best might not be best based on gathering all the evidence and all the opinions and hearing thoughts from different people. Just to be in the conversation would be a great start. That’s kind of what I expressed since February. There’s a lot of conversations about football stuff, and what might not seem like football stuff, that does affect my job.
“I enjoy just at least being aware of the conversations. In the conversation is an even better position to be, and then actually having an opportunity to maybe impact the decision is great.”
Packers, Jets stay cool Day 1
For a moment, it appeared Wednesday’s opening practice between the Packers and Jets might get hotter than the 85-degree temperatures at Ray Nitschke Field.
After catching a pass in the right flat, Packers tight end Josiah Deguara was hit to the ground by Jets linebacker Jarrad Davis. The tackle would have been perfectly acceptable in a game, but it was the type of shot generally forbidden in practice. Receiver Davante Adams followed Davis’ back to the Jets' defensive huddle, appearing to discuss the play with him.
The intensity also increased during special teams drills, when the Packers and Jets practiced one-on-one blocking. Both sidelines were energetic, but neither crossed the line into fighting.
“It wasn’t heated at all,” Rodgers said, “which is nice. They (the Jets) did a good job. They were really getting off the ball. Their D-line, I think is good for our young guys to feel that pressure and that get-off from those guys. They’ve got really good ‘backers as well. They’re young in the secondary. So it’s good for them, probably, seeing a veteran quarterback and me trying to manipulate them with their eyes.
“There are a lot of things to be learned through this. It’s just, I always have a fear of guys getting hurt, compromised positions, and then unnecessary fighting. So we got through today, and hopefully we’ll get through tomorrow.”
On the other end of Ray Nitschke Field, the Packers' defense and Jets' offense were similarly chilled.
It might help that the Packers' and Jets' coaching staffs are close friends, even family. Matt LaFleur’s younger brother is Mike LaFleur, the Jets offensive coordinator. Jets head coach Robert Saleh is perhaps Matt LaFleur’s closest friend.
Safety Adrian Amos said the lack of fights was simply a byproduct of both teams focusing on football.
“On our end,” Amos said, “it’s just nothing happened, nothing happened. We’re out there playing ball. Nothing gets started, nothing happens. We practice hard, play hard. We’re not out there to fight. So that’s not something that at the end of the day we’re like, ‘No fights.’ It’s not something that I really think about.”
Love still day to day
Jordan Love threw passes Tuesday for the first time since his shoulder injury in Saturday night’s preseason debut, but he didn’t show enough progress to participate Wednesday morning.
LaFleur said he expected to test Love’s throwing shoulder again Wednesday, but he wasn’t ready for practice reps. The Packers instead worked Kurt Benkert extensively with the backups behind Rodgers. The team also added reserve quarterback Jake Dolegala, but LaFleur said it’s too early to know whether Love will be available against the Jets on Saturday for the team’s second preseason game.
“It’s still day to day,” LaFleur said. “We’ll give him every opportunity. We just don’t want to ever put him in a situation where it could make it worse.” \
Change of scenery
New Packers cornerback Isaac Yiadom found out he was traded to Green Bay before practicing with the New York Giants on Tuesday. Shortly after, Yiadom learned he wouldn’t get to dress in green and gold alongside good friend Josh Jackson.
Jackson, the Packers’ second-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft, was sent to New York in exchange for Yiadom on Tuesday. The two cornerbacks, who were drafted 54 spots apart, are both represented by Brian McLaughlin of VaynerSports. After learning of their swap, Yiadom said he and Jackson connected.
“We just wished each other the best of luck,” Yiadom said. “Told me best of luck over there. If you need anything let me know. I told him the same thing.”
Yiadom experience a whirlwind 24 hours, from learning of his trade Tuesday before practice to hopping on a flight from Newark, New Jersey and catching a connection from Chicago to Green Bay at 6 p.m. The fourth-year cornerback was present for and participated in the Packers’ first joint practice against the Jets on Wednesday.
Despite the quick turnaround, Yiadom is no stranger to getting traded. He was selected by the Denver Broncos in the third round, 99th overall and spent two years with the team before getting shipped off to the Giants at the start of the 2020 season.
“Change is always hard,” Yiadom said. “It's as hard as you make it. But I dealt with the same thing last year. I got traded last year to New York. I had to learn a different system there, too. It's my second time getting traded. So it's not that shocking to me right now. I know how to adjust to it since last time, so it's gonna be easy for me.”
Yiadom’s relationship with Jackson isn’t his only connection to the Packers. While in Denver, he played with right tackle Billy Turner and wide receiver Juwann Winfree.
A Boston College product, Yiadom has ties to the alumni on the Packers – running back A.J. Dillon and inside linebacker Isaiah McDuffie. As a senior, Yiadom played with Dillon when he was a freshman and McDuffie when he was a sophomore.