GREEN BAY — While the Green Bay Packers offense hasn’t exactly looked breathtaking during the first seven practices of training camp, the guy at the controls isn’t overly worried. In fact, quarterback Aaron Rodgers likes where his group is at, all things considered.
That was Rodgers’ message during his weekly meet-and-greet with reporters after Thursday’s practice, a light session in advance of Friday’s Family Night event at Lambeau Field.
Much has been made throughout the offseason of Rodgers having to learn a new offense under coach Matt LaFleur, and on Thursday, Rodgers pointed to a handful of plays during the previous day’s practice that showed him that the offense is on the right track.
Rodgers explained that, during an 11-on-11 period on Wednesday in which the offense worked from a spread formation, he and tight end Jimmy Graham, as well as center Corey Linsley and wide receivers Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, felt they had something of a breakthrough.
“That’s the key for this offense: We need our important guys, (who) we really count on, to have confidence in the scheme,” Rodgers said. “My confidence is growing in the scheme. Jimmy’s confidence is growing in the scheme. Davante, I mean, he kind of wakes up and he’s having a great day. He’s had a great camp. (But) you see his confidence growing.
“(I’m) seeing those guys grow in confidence every day. Marquez, two days ago, I feel like had a really, really good day. It’s fun to see that stuff on film. Then we go to a protection period, make the right adjustments (in pass protection), Corey’s making the right calls, feeling comfortable with the new terms. That’s when you start to really see some jumps in the scheme.”
It’s not all work and no play during training camp, Rodgers said, as LaFleur and his staff continue to do getting-to-know-you activities. Rodgers said one of them was a game where the rookies had to guess which coach on their side of the ball was being described — “Both rookies (groups) were less than 50 percent,” Rodgers said — before launching into something of a get-off-my-lawn routine.
“This younger generation may be not as concerned with names and stuff. They don’t even have to spell anymore,” the 35-year-old Rodgers said. “I was telling somebody the other day, I remember when T-9 word (completion) came out on the phone. (We) were like, ‘Oh my God, this corrects my text and tells me what to write.’ These kids don’t even know how to spell.”
That much became clear to Rodgers during a spelling contest the team had the other day. Rodgers reached the finals, where he lost to defensive coordinator Mike Pettine when Pettine won a coin flip and correctly spelled the word “conscientious.”
“All this (is) to say, the relationships are being formed, and being a little intentional in camp is the best way to really kind of improve that chemistry,” Rodgers said. “We’re staying at the dorms, guys are hanging out at snack. Obviously, we have a bunch of down time throughout the day. This is a fun time right now. There’s obviously pressure to perform in practice, especially for the young guys, but it’s a fun time right now.
“I enjoy this team. It’s got a good, young spirit about it, a hunger, and guys I think genuinely like each other — which isn’t always the case with teams.”
LaFleur said he thought safety Josh Jones “responded well” after being pulled out of practice Wednesday for fighting. “We talked about it as a team and that’s something we’re not going to shy away from,” LaFleur said. “We’re going to be consistent with that message.” … After watching Valdes-Scantling’s 34-yard touchdown catch from Rodgers against Jaire Alexander on Wednesday’s practice film, LaFleur said plays like that will be good for figuring out how officials will call pass interference. “I can’t wait to see how they officiate those,” LaFleur said. “I thought it was great coverage by Jaire and I thought Marquez did a nice job of transitioning and making a play on the football.” … LaFleur said veteran kicker Mason Crosby, who remains on the non-football injury list with a calf strain, won’t kick on Family Night but is nearing a return. “It sounds like he’s been running better and I think it’s just a matter of time,” LaFleur said. … Despite still being in a walking boot to protect his surgically-repaired left Achilles’ tendon, LaFleur emphasized he will coach from the sideline for next week’s preseason opener against Houston. … LaFleur had the team run through a half-speed 2-minute drill Thursday, and it yielded a good lesson for rookie pass-rusher Rashan Gary, whom Rodgers got to jump offsides on a snap count, despite the slow pace. LaFleur called it “a great learning moment” for Gary. … LaFleur said Family Night will be great for his young players – and himself. “I think it’s a good opportunity for our guys, especially some of these young guys that haven’t been in that type of environment before — including myself — (to have) a good, little dress rehearsal before we play a game.”