GREEN BAY – Getting his teammates involved remains a priority for Aaron Rodgers. But not all of them, the secondary is the main exception.
“You have to show it in practice in order for me to feel comfortable making those throws in the game,” the quarterback said.
Through just a few days of training camp, his intended targets – the wide receivers – are not always the ones that come down with the ball. Rodgers has already equaled his interception total from a season ago this summer with five, but it’s not something anyone seems all too concerned about.
“I know how to play in those games,” Rodgers said of the difference between a game and practice. “You make different throws and you’re working through different plays and sometimes the defense makes a play.”
The two-time MVP attempted 520 passes last year and was intercepted less than 1% of the time the ball left his hand. During the season he’s prudent with the football, now he can give his younger receivers a chance more freely.
“I would think at least four of them are competitive balls,” head coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s going to do things in training camp that he might obviously do on a Sunday. giving guys chances to make plays.”
“If he was a younger guy there would be a lot more like panic and talk about it going on,” wide receiver Jordy Nelson continued. “We know what Aaron does in the season so I think it makes complete sense of what he’s trying to do especially with some younger guys to see if they will compete for the ball and go get it.”
With Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, draft pick Ty Montgomery is position to make the roster at wide receiver there is little room for the others. They need to prove themselves on a Thursday in August if they ever want to get the chance to get targeted in a key situation on a Sunday in December.
“If they’re making the plays then they’re going to get more opportunities in the preseason and they’ll probably be around for the regular season,” Rodgers finished. “If they are not making those plays they probably won’t be around.”
The Packers begin to trim down their rosters on after their third preseason game and will have to be down to 53 players by September 5.
Rodgers is paying attention to many moments in practice – not just the interceptions – to see who can and will make catches in traffic. The offense hasn’t been as refined as they would have liked but when the games and throws start to matter the quarterback will be ready. The receivers need to be just as prepared as well.
“I would like to see those balls come up our way,” Rodgers noted. “We’ve had some chances on some of those and not come up with them. We have to do a better job of catching the over-the-top ball.”
“He’s competing and he doesn’t want to look bad out there,” Nelson said. “That’s what pushes us to be such an efficient offense in practice and in games.”
The quarterback has thrown five interceptions this training camp, but who’s counting? Well Rodgers is.