GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — On the night before his first training camp workout as the Green Bay Packers’ starting quarterback, Jordan Love received some advice from his four-time MVP predecessor.
Love said Wednesday that New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers texted him the previous evening. When the Packers traded Rodgers to the Jets the week of the draft, it cleared the way for Love to take over as Green Bay’s first-team quarterback.
“He said just be yourself, have fun, enjoy it,” Love said. “It’s obviously my time now, and he just said be yourself. And I mean, that’s all you can do.”
Love backed up Rodgers the last three seasons, just as Rodgers earned Green Bay’s starting spot in 2008 after spending three years as Hall of Famer Brett Favre's backup.
Although Love has made only one career start, he believes his three years of experience make him much more prepared than if he’d received this assignment as a rookie.
“He definitely has complete command of our offense,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “There’s no doubt about it. He’s put the work in.”
Love also has the support of his teammates. Wide receiver Romeo Doubs said “we have the utmost confidence in him.”
“We want Mr. Love to feel the love,” running back Aaron Jones said. “That’s going to bring up his confidence and I think that’s just going to help him play even better.”
Love took it upon himself to gather as many of those teammates together during the offseason.
After Love, Doubs and running back Aaron Jones worked out together in California before organized team activities and minicamp, they wanted to have a larger gathering leading up to training camp.
Jones said Love spearheaded the project by inviting everyone. The collection of Packers to work out at Santa Ana, California, eventually grew to include receivers Christian Watson, Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks and Jeff Cotton plus backup quarterback Danny Etling as well as Love, Doubs and Jones. Cotton has since been waived.
“Usually in the offseason you’re throwing with other people that don’t run the same routes that you run in your offense, things like that, so just being able to have that familiarity and build those connections with those guys was awesome,” Love said. “We went bowling. We had a couple nice dinners out there. It was a good time to build those connections.”
Love called himself the best bowler in the group and said he “almost had a 200 one game.”
“Christian did say the lanes weren’t good enough for him,” Love said. “I guess he spins the ball so the lanes didn’t have enough grip, supposedly. But I did win.”
The trip wasn’t merely to build camaraderie. Jones said the lessons from the California trip already are paying off in practice.
“We’re in meetings and coach LaFleur is asking the young receivers questions, and they’re able to answer with confidence because we just went over it in California,” Jones said. “And Jordan’s there with them and he can tell them why’re we’re running that play, what we’re looking for on that play and what we’re trying to accomplish.”
That’s just one example of how Love is preparing for his new assignment by trying to be the best version of himself. That’s the guidance he’s received over and over, whether it be from Rodgers or any of his current teammates.
“That’s kind of been the message from everybody,” Love said. “Just be yourself. Don’t try to be anybody else. Don’t try to be Aaron. Just be yourself. And that’s kind of what I’m trying to do.”
NOTES: Although there were thunderstorms in Green Bay earlier Wednesday, the weather cleared up in time for the Packers to practice outdoors. The weather did cause some challenges for Love and other quarterbacks as they threw into a stiff wind. … LaFleur said David Bakhtiari’s practice schedule will be “pretty fluid” as the Packers try to make sure the left tackle is at full strength for the start of the season. Bakhtiari played just one game in 2021 due to a knee injury that required three surgeries, though he returned to play 11 games last season. ... The Packers signed WR Cody Chrest, an undrafted rookie from Sam Houston State.