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Despite strong offensive start, Packers know drops have resulted in ‘a lot of yards left out on the field’
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Despite strong offensive start, Packers know drops have resulted in ‘a lot of yards left out on the field’

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Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling is not able to hang on to a second-quarter pass while defended by Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

GREEN BAY — After catching an 11-yard touchdown pass during Sunday’s 42-21 victory over the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field, Robert Tonyan sought out the guy who threw it: Aaron Rodgers.

Tonyan, the Green Bay Packers’ third-year tight end, wanted to tell his quarterback how much he appreciated the show of confidence in him considering he’d dropped a pass earlier in the game.

“As I talked to Aaron afterward, I just told him, ‘Thanks for trusting me and coming back to me.’ That’s big,” Tonyan recounted during a Zoom video call with reporters Monday afternoon. “We did have a couple drops early, but when Aaron comes back to those guys, that does show a lot of trust and what he stands for in this locker room.

“Aaron’s just such a good leader and he wants everyone to be successful on the team — no matter who it is. The skill guys, they’re hard on themselves already, so Aaron knows that, and he’s just trying to pick them up and instill that trust back in them as immediately as possible.”

Asked how Rodgers responded to him, Tonyan replied: “(He) just gives you ‘The Look,’ (a) nod. He just knows. He’s a man of not-many words, but I like it. You’ve got to read his demeanor.”

Rodgers has long said he is more understanding of physical mistakes than he is of mental ones. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Packers were charged with four drops: one each by tight end Jace Sternberger, running back Aaron Jones and wide receivers Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. That total didn’t include Tonyan’s drop, which he himself graded as one, or a blatant second drop by Sternberger, which was wiped out by a Lucas Patrick penalty.

Asked about the drops after the game, Rodgers replied, “We dropped obviously a few too many balls, but at big times in the game, (we got) big plays from both Allen and Marquez.”

Per ESPN, the Packers lead the NFL in drops with seven through two games. Last season, ESPN charged them with 21, the 10th-most in the 32-team NFL. In their season-opening win at Minnesota on Sept. 13, Valdes-Scantling (two) and Adams (one) had the team’s three drops

Packers coach Matt LaFleur said he and his assistant coaches had found six total drops on film from Sunday’s win over the Lions but quickly added “we’re tough graders and expect a lot out of these guys. But I think you have to have a high standard to get to where you want to go.

“Certainly, I think there was a lot of yards left out on the field from those drops, and we’ve got to try to get better for (Rodgers).”

LaFleur said there wasn’t a singular reason for the drops, but it’ll clearly be an emphasis this week in practice going into next Sunday night’s game at New Orleans.

“A couple of those were definitely concentration,” LaFleur said. “It’s not like anybody’s trying to drop a ball when they go out there. It just sometimes it happens fast and you don’t get your hands in the right place or whatever it may be or you might take your eye off the ball a little too early trying to make an explosive play. It’s just one thing, we’ve got to make sure we ensure the catch and finish the catch.”

Health watch

It appears the Packers were fortunate with Adams, who left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury after catching only three passes for 36 yards. Adams spent the remainder of the game on the sideline, and LaFleur said Adams wanted to return to the game — a good sign the hamstring injury is not severe and should not keep him out of next Sunday night’s game against the Saints.

“I know he wanted to go back in the game. I just told him, ‘Hey, let’s see how these next few series go and see if we need you,’” LaFleur said. “Obviously he’s a huge part of what we do offensively and a key member of this football team. If we don’t need him, we didn’t want to put him back in a position to do further harm to his own body.”

Meanwhile, the Packers will take a wait-and-see approach on center Corey Linsley, who missed the game’s final eight snaps with a hand injury — problematic for the lineman who touches the ball on every play. With Linsley sidelined, Patrick moved from right guard to center and rookie Jon Runyan came off the bench for the second straight week to fill in at right guard.

“It’s hard to play center if you can’t snap,” LaFleur said. “That’s something we’ll work through throughout the week and see where he’s at. If he’s able to go, then he’ll go.”


Photos: Packers overcome early deficit to defeat Lions behind career day from Aaron Jones

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