Coach Matt LaFleur said Tuesday that quarterback Aaron Rodgers will “most likely not” play at all in the preseason. That likely has little or nothing to do with Rodgers’ offseason in which he voiced concerns about the organization and skipped the entire spring program. Rodgers simply hasn’t played much at all in recent preseasons.
In 2019, when LaFleur took over, Rodgers was slated to play in the third preseason game only, but that was the game in which there were concerns over the field conditions in Winnipeg and the Packers ended up not playing him. There were no preseason games last year.
Rodgers’ last preseason action came in 2018, when he played one series that included seven plays. He hasn’t played more than three series in a single preseason since 2015.
For Love, it will be his first game action of any kind since Jan. 25, 2020 in the Senior Bowl. The Packers’ 2020 first-round pick did not play at all as a rookie. In fact, he never even suited up. He was inactive for all 16 regular-season games plus both playoff games last season.
“So it’s over a year and a half ago, I think,” Love said of his last game action. “I’m super excited. This is the moment I’ve been preparing for even since last year not having preseason. It’s almost like I’ve been training a year just for this first preseason game. I’m sure excited to get out there and get back to playing ball.”
The closest thing Love has come to playing as a pro to date was Saturday’s practice at Lambeau Field in front of 34,835 fans who braved the rain for the annual Family Night. Love mishandled the ball three times, two on snaps from undrafted rookie center Jacob Capra and another on a fumble during a scramble play.
However, Love also flashed some arm strength that hasn’t been seen all that often in his two NFL summer camps to date. He pushed the ball deep down the field on a ball that receiver Reggie Begelton couldn’t quite bring in, but it was perhaps the best deep ball Love has thrown since he’s been here.
“There were some really good things and then there’s some things we’ve got to clean up,” LaFleur said of that practice. “Certainly, we can’t have the ball on the ground. We had a couple fumbled exchanges. I know he hasn’t necessarily gotten a ton of work with Capra but he’s going to have to potentially in the preseason. We’ve just got to clean up some of those things. He had the one play where he scrambled out and had one hand on the ball when he’s moving up in the pocket and hit his thigh pad and he fumbled that one. I think ultimately we’ve just got to make sure he’s doing a great job of taking care of that football.
“I thought he was able to make a couple nice throws. He almost had a big one to Reggie that got through; I don’t know how that ball got through but it was a great pass to Reggie and one that I think Reggie would like to have back. There was a lot of good. I think more than anything else, the one thing that we’ll make sure to keep pressing on to him is the tempo in and out of the huddle, up to the line of scrimmage, making sure the communication’s on point. There were a couple times where he may have gotten a bad play call in there in terms of how we set the formations and he’s got to be able to figure that out and get everybody lined up so we can go out there and execute.”
LaFleur said Love will “take the majority of the game” on Saturday against the Texans, and Kurt Benkert will finish it. The Packers have only three quarterbacks in camp after releasing Blake Bortles and Jake Dolegala shortly after Rodgers arrived for training camp.