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Packers' Jordan Love’s shoulder injury ‘significant enough’ that he may miss joint practices, game against Jets
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PACKERS | PRESEASON

Packers' Jordan Love’s shoulder injury ‘significant enough’ that he may miss joint practices, game against Jets

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Quarterback Jordan Love looks for a receiver Saturday night against the Texans at Lambeau Field. The preseason opener marked Love's first action in a game as a member of the Packers.

GREEN BAY — Jordan Love’s right shoulder will be all right. The Green Bay Packers aren’t worried about their quarterback of the future having sustained any sort of long-term, debilitating injury to his throwing arm during his NFL debut in Saturday night’s 26-7 preseason-opening loss to the Houston Texans at Lambeau Field.

What coach Matt LaFleur, general manager Brian Gutekunst and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett are a bit concerned about is exactly how much valuable practice time — and, potentially, game time — Love will miss because of the injury, which occurred as Love was raring back to throw a deep ball down the left sideline and had it knocked from his grasp by Texans defensive end Jonathan Greenard just before halftime.

Love underwent an MRI on Sunday, and while LaFleur said the second-year quarterback was “doing fine,” he could miss work this week while the Packers hold joint practices with the New York Jets on Wednesday and Thursday in advance of their preseason game on Saturday.

“It’s something, though, that is significant enough where he could miss a couple days of practice,” LaFleur said Sunday while players were off in advance of a light Monday practice that is closed to the public. “We’ll see where he’s at at the end of the week, but we’re going to kind of take it day to day.”

Asked if he could miss the game against the Jets, LaFleur replied, “Potentially, yeah.”

With LaFleur having decided to hold 37-year-old starting quarterback and reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers out of preseason games out of an abundance of caution, if Love can’t go Saturday, the Packers would have only No. 3 quarterback Kurt Benkert at the position. Thus, Gutekunst was working on adding a quarterback Sunday afternoon.

“We’re going to look at a few options. Matt and I are going to sit down tonight and kind of figure that out,” Gutekunst said. “But we’ll obviously protect the team, make sure we have somebody here.”

Asked if he’d be concerned if Love couldn’t practice or play in the game, Gutekunst replied, “Yeah, if he ends up having to miss any time, it’ll be kind of a bummer. … Last night, it was great to see him out there and finally get some reps. It wouldn’t be ideal, but at the same time, we’re pretty hopeful he can get back here quick.”

Love needs all the work he can get because the 2020 first-round draft pick’s development was slowed by the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on last season.

Not only was all of Love’s first NFL offseason spent in the virtual realm, but training camp was abbreviated, the preseason schedule was canceled and Love, as the No. 3 quarterback behind Rodgers and backup Tim Boyle, didn’t get much practice work even during the season because Rodgers needed the first-team reps and Boyle ran the scout team to be ready if injury struck.

Love wound up being inactive for all 18 games (including playoffs) and didn’t even wear his No. 10 jersey until Saturday night, when he completed 12 of 17 passes for 122 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown on a screen to running back Kylin Hill for a 110.4 passer rating. LaFleur had planned on playing Love for the first three quarters but sat him at halftime because of the injury.

“I thought he started to get into a nice little rhythm there (during) the third series. He made some good plays,” Hackett said. “He took a couple shots, too, which for a quarterback, that’s always important — because obviously we protect them during practice, and for him to hang in there and deliver some really nice, accurate balls was great.”

Asked how much it would stunt Love’s growth if he missed this week, Hackett replied, “There’s nothing you can replace with live reps. I mean, nothing. That’s just the experience of the game. Every player, you want them to get out there as much as possible. That’s for any young player.

“But I think that for him, as a football player, you also have to deal with all kinds of other things that go on within the game. So, this is going to be an opportunity for him to be able to sit back. He’s got to be able to continue to grow, continue to learn.”

As valuable as more work would be, though, LaFleur made it clear that it would be stupid to push Love and have the injury get worse.

“You’re always looking at the long-term health and care of all your players, and you never want to put a guy in a position where they can’t protect themselves or they’re at further risk for significant injury. We would never do that,” LaFleur said. “Certainly, we’ll try to do everything we can for not only Jordan but any player that is injured to get him as healthy as possible. And when the docs give him the green light, then we’ll put him out there.”

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