Jordan Love expected to face Bills, but Packers will limit his playing time
GREEN BAY - Jordan Love is on track to play for the second time this preseason Saturday when the Green Bay Packers travel to Buffalo, but he might be on a pitch count.
Coach Matt LaFleur said Love will not play the entire preseason finale against the Bills. Kurt Benkert, the team’s third quarterback, will get at least some snaps.
“Kurt will definitely play,” LaFleur said Thursday. “If Jordan plays, we’re most likely looking at a half, maybe somewhat into the third quarter.”
Love returned to practice this week after missing last week’s pair of joint sessions against the New York Jets and ensuing game with a strained throwing shoulder. After not taking any team reps Monday, Love was able to return to 11-on-11 drills with no issues Tuesday. The second-year quarterback again took team reps Thursday, throwing a perfect pass to receiver Malik Taylor against tight coverage from cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles on a deep corner some 30 yards downfield.
“I thought he looked good,” LaFleur said before Thursday’s practice. “He said there’s no pain. So we’ll let it go through the week, and we’ll see.”
Love had a strong preseason debut against the Houston Texans, completing 12 of 17 passes for 122 yards, one touchdown and a 110.42 passer rating. He had been scheduled to play three quarters, but on his final drop back of the first half, Texans outside linebacker Jonathan Greenard hit Love’s throwing shoulder as he threw. Love strained his shoulder on the strip sack.
For Love, missing the pair of joint practices might have been more problematic than last week’s preseason game.
“Because (Robert) Saleh threw a lot of things at us,” Aaron Rodgers said of the Jets head coach, who runs the defense. “That, to me, is more important than the game. Now the first week, the Texans didn’t play a whole lot on defense. They played some vanilla coverages. It would have been better (to play) against the Jets.”
Rodgers said the Bills are expected to play starters this week, same as the Jets last week. It should be a good test for Love entering the regular season, where he will not play meaningful snaps if Rodgers stays healthy.
In Buffalo, Love will end an eventful offseason that at one point had him penciled in as the Packers' potential starting quarterback. That ended when Rodgers returned at the start of camp.
Rodgers said he’s been impressed with what he’s seen from his young teammate.
“When he throws the ball on time,” Rodgers said, “he’s a very accurate quarterback. If there’s any type of clutter with a progression or read or whatever – for any of us, any quarterback: When you’re not throwing the ball in rhythm, it becomes more difficult to be accurate and be effective. I thought just today, we were working on a couple things with (quarterbacks coach Luke) Getsy, and I thought he did a really nice job with a couple things we were working on with him and Kurt and Jake (Dolegala).
“So he just needs to trust his footwork and go out and play in rhythm.”
Myers gets an earful from Rodgers
As Week 1 approaches, Rodgers is becoming more blunt about his rookie center’s development.
Rodgers served a hard lesson to Josh Myers, the second-round pick last spring, during Thursday’s practice. During team drills, he wanted Myers to snap the football on command. When Myers didn’t, Rodgers let his rookie hear it.
“I was very gentle and patient early in camp,” Rodgers said, “and there has to be a switch, because we get a little closer. It’s important that he feels the urgency in my demeanor moving forward, especially with potentially a young person playing next to him. We need him to play more like a veteran, and not like a rookie.”
The Packers appear poised to start a pair of rookies on their interior offensive line. Myers has gotten first-team reps throughout the offseason, since the day he arrived in Green Bay for rookie orientation. Royce Newman, a fourth-round pick last spring, has been a late riser through preseason.
At the line of scrimmage, Rodgers made an adjustment Thursday that required a different cadence. Myers didn’t catch the change. Rodgers said the two had discussed that exact scenario away from practice, but Myers didn’t react how he wanted when they encountered it on the field.
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“He decided to not change the cadence by himself,” Rodgers said. “Just about everybody else, probably, moved. But he didn’t. He was kind of doing his own thing.”
Rodgers said he isn’t holding the mistake against Myers.
“I would guess, knowing him a little bit now,” Rodgers said, “that would be his one-time mistake on that. And you need plays like that. I’m not mad about that. I’m frustrated he didn’t snap it at the moment, but I’m not ultimately mad.
“I’m way happier it happened in practice than down in New Orleans.”
Rodgers vaccinated but isn't pushing it
Rodgers said Thursday he has gotten the COVID-19 vaccination, but he isn’t pressing the issue with teammates who have not.
LaFleur said earlier in camp 11 players were still without their vaccines. That was before the Packers' roster was trimmed from 90 players to 80, where it now is entering Saturday’s preseason finale in Buffalo.
Rodgers confirmed he’s among the players who have been vaccinated.
“There are guys who are on the team that haven’t been vaccinated,” Rodgers said. “I think it’s a personal decision. I’m not going to judge those guys. There’s guys that have been vaccinated that have contracted COVID. So it’s an interesting issue.”
Rodgers said it will be especially interesting to see how the NFL treats COVID-19 this season. He has had conversations with former teammate JC Tretter, the president of the NFL players association, about the best protocols to put in place.
“The PA had talked about testing every single day,” Rodgers said. “The league, obviously, I think shot that down, or didn’t want to do that. I don’t know if that was financially incentivized or not. it’ll be interesting to see what happens, if we can get the protocols to change at some point.
“It’s obviously something that’s moving. The protocols and outline guidelines are changing every day, it seems.”