Jordan Love made his first appearance at Lambeau Field in a Packers uniform on Thursday as the team held practice at their home field. The rookie out of Utah State has shown the ability that made him a first-round pick this year, but he still has a long way to go before he’s ready to start in the NFL.
“That was awesome, just coming out of the tunnel and seeing it,” Love said of Lambeau Field. “It’s a lot bigger than I thought it was, but finally getting the first practice in there was a crazy feeling.”
Love showed some touch on a deep pass to Malik Taylor that closed out the practice and he led his squad to field goal on the final drive.
But don’t let first impressions fool you. The Packers are not expecting much from Love on the field this season. During this crazy year of Covid-19, Love has not had the benefit of OTAs, minicamps or preseason games. Even training camp is shortened and has less reps in pads than it normally does. It’s hard enough for rookie quarterbacks to make the adjustment to the NFL under normal circumstances, but this year, it’s even more difficult.
Head coach Matt LaFleur sees the things his rookie quarterback needs to work on. “He’s very natural and, you know, there’s a lot to clean up right now,” LaFleur said. “He’s a young quarterback that is learning a new system. And just how specific we are with the footwork I think that takes time. But I’m pleased at how he attacks it on a daily basis. I think he’s a really intelligent kid and he’s very athletic, so I think it’s a matter of time before he can pick up mechanics.”
With Aaron Rodgers clearly the starter and experienced backup Tim Boyle getting off to a strong start in camp this year, Love will likely start the season as the team’s third string quarterback.
“I think obviously the physical gifts are all there,” GM Brian Gutekunst told reporters during a video conference on Thursday. “Now it’s getting himself into a comfort zone and all the different things that the coaches are asking him to do and then allowing those physical gifts to come out. Learning how to play quarterback in the National Football League is a pretty big accomplishment, and I think these things will take time. But he’s certainly done some very good things in the short time he’s been here.”
Love himself understands that this is not a process that will be happening overnight. “It’s definitely been a lot for me just in terms of learning the playbook and trying to get a grasp on that right now,” Love admitted.
The Packers knew entering the season that Love would need time to develop into an NFL quarterback. The scouting reports all said he has the raw talent and ability but needs refinement. With a two-time MVP already on the roster ahead of him, there was no need to rush the rookie into the lineup. Love would watch Rodgers and learn much like A-Rod did behind Brett Favre in his rookie year back in 2005.
Love also helped dispel any rumors that he and Rodgers might not get along. Rodgers was seen during practice explaining things to the rookie and of course, Love can always learn by watching the way Rodgers goes about his business every day.
“It’s great for me just being able to sit there, be in the same room as him and just hear how the thinks about plays and go out to practice and watch him put it together,” Love explained. “It’s really awesome for me to see and take in and evaluate him and evaluate myself and just try to do my best job to learn by watching him.”
Love is enjoying the working atmosphere inside the quarterback room. “That quarterback room, it’s a great room, great environment to be around,” Love said. “I’ve got two dudes that I can learn from. I’ve learned a lot so far from them and will continue to do that.”
So, Packers fans need to avoid overreacting to Love’s performance in practices. He will have his moments, probably good, bad and ugly and all of it is just part of the learning process for a rookie quarterback.
If all goes well in Green Bay this season, the only action Love will see will be on the practice field or in garbage time late in a blowout game. Right now, his job is to listen, learn and grow.
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