Packers QB Jordan Love keeps focus on his first start amid Aaron Rodgers firestorm
GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love was finishing up his pre-practice stretch Friday inside the Don Hutson Center just about the time teammate Aaron Rodgers was making Twitter go crazy with a defense of his vaccination status and some widely disputed claims about the faulty science behind vaccination and mask-wearing.
As Love jogged out onto the field, Rodgers was reporting to talk show host Pat McAfee that he was feeling better after testing positive for the virus Wednesday morning and thanking all those who reached out to send their best.
About the time Love was flinging the ball through the calm air on Clark Hinkle Field, Rodgers was full-out inflaming the on-going dispute between the pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine cultures and bringing the Packers’ fan base into the fray.
Love had zero connection to the growing debate other than being Rodgers’ replacement when the Packers travel to Kansas City on Sunday. As far as the social media eruption that was growing with every minute Rodgers spent presenting his argument on whether to be vaccinated, Love’s relationship to it all was the same as millions of others in the country: He was on the vaccination side.
This was the final full-speed practice before the Packers jump on a plane Saturday afternoon and Love was carrying out some of the plays coach Matt LaFleur is expected to call Sunday. From most accounts, he had a pretty good week of practice, although it’s hard to imagine anyone saying publicly that he didn’t.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what he does,” receiver Davante Adams said. “I can definitely tell that he's tapped in and ready to play. So, it’ll be fun to go out there and sling it around a little bit."
When Love entered the media auditorium after practice, it’s hard to imagine he hadn’t heard anything about the firestorm Rodgers had created with his comments condemning the NFL, the media, the “woke mob” and “cancel culture.” Whether he was prepared for it, no one will know because he wasn’t asked about it.
Most of the discussion was about his first NFL start in one of the loudest venues in the NFL.
Love might have been overshadowed Friday by Rodgers, but he knows on Sunday, he’s going to be the one in the spotlight. Maybe a nice distraction like the one Rodgers created will work in Love’s favor, given how little the sporting world was talking about him Friday.
When the game starts, however, all eyes will be on him.
“Obviously, there's going to be some nerves there,” he said. “There always is, just walking out of the tunnel obviously in an away game, too. The atmosphere is going to be rockin’, but I have a lot of confidence in myself, a lot of confidence in this team, and those dudes, they're gonna take care of me.
“So, once we go out on the field, it's going to feel just like a normal game."
Love came to the dais with a mask on, something most of the players don’t do, including Rodgers. When asked about it, he said he was just following protocol for someone who has been deemed a close contact, which he became presumably from being around Rodgers and quarterback Kurt Benkert, both of whom tested positive this week.
Love is vaccinated so the only orders he’s under are to wear a mask and get tested every day.
He admitted there was some trepidation after each test knowing that a positive test would end his chances to play this week. But he said he has felt good all week and isn’t anticipating any setback.
“I’ve had negative tests,” Love said. “I'm confident that I'm good right now."
The next 24 hour will consist of Love and the rest of the team making final preparations for the game, going over some of the plays he likes and some he doesn’t. When the game starts, LaFleur is expecting him to be in a good spot.
“I think we have a pretty good idea of where he is right now, in the things he’s comfortable with,” LaFleur said. “There’s been a lot of communication. Obviously, he's gotten all the reps. I do think that the offseason provided him a good opportunity to experience some of these plays for the first time.
“And so you know, you just try to draw on those past experiences that he's had, whether it's during OTAs or training camp or in the preseason games to get a feel for what he's most comfortable with. You want a guy that's going to go out there and be confident in what he's doing. And I think he will be."