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Aaron Rodgers appreciates being 'back in the conversation' for MVP

Packers QB looking for third award, plus another historic milestone with WR Davante Adams

QB Aaron Rodgers
QB Aaron Rodgers

GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers long ago put another Super Bowl far higher on his priority list than any additional individual accolades.

But don't think he's not keenly aware of his current status as one of two top candidates in 2020 for what would be his third NFL Most Valuable Player award.

"It's nice to be back in the conversation," Rodgers said Wednesday.

Rodgers' first two MVPs were never really in doubt. In 2011, he received 48 of the 50 Associated Press votes, and in '14, he got 31 of 50.

The Packers QB also thought he had a shot in 2012, when Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson won it by making a convincing statement in the season's last game, rushing for 199 yards against Green Bay to get the Vikings into the playoffs and himself over 2,000 yards.

And then in 2016, Rodgers' late-season run "didn't really get a sniff," he said, though technically he did receive two votes to winner and Atlanta QB Matt Ryan's 25.

This year, with three regular-season games remaining, it's shaping up to be a close vote between Rodgers and Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes, the 2018 MVP.

The Chiefs have one loss to the Packers' three, with Mahomes leading the league in passing yards (4,208, 500-plus ahead of Rodgers). Meanwhile Rodgers has the edge in TD passes (36-33), interceptions (4-5) and passer rating (119.7-112.3).

Throughout the season, Rodgers has discussed the long list of reasons for his higher level of play compared to a year ago, when his 95.4 passer rating was not among his best statistical seasons.

A second year in Head Coach Matt LaFleur's system, extensive offseason (virtual) meetings about the playbook, physical work on his legs, and studying his fundamentals on old film all have contributed.

On Wednesday, he indicated a particular throw in training camp on a deep stop route by Marquez Valdes-Scantling, on which he executed a fake and "threw a laser," was the moment he felt everything clicking in, and he's been rolling since then.

By Week 3, after the Packers had scored 43, 42 and 37 points in three victories, a lot of talk surrounded how the now 37-year-old Rodgers had suddenly turned back the clock. His favorite receiver, Davante Adams, saw it differently, though.

Adams felt between the disappointment in losing the NFC title game last year and the fact that he didn't put up typical Rodgers numbers in an otherwise wildly successful year, he expected this type of response.

"Everybody was trying to say he's back to being the old A-Rod," Adams said. "I see that old A-Rod, whoever that is, daily. I knew it was coming.

"Knowing what type of competitor he is, I guess I knew far ahead of time."

In a year already full of milestones, Rodgers and Adams are on the verge of yet another one, together. With 91 receptions this season, Adams has now caught 474 career passes from Rodgers, moving past the 469 Jordy Nelson caught from him.

The only more productive duo in Packers history in terms of completions is Brett Favre and Donald Driver, with 486. Adams already has four double-digit reception games this season, so it's not out of the question he and Rodgers will move past Favre and Driver as soon as Saturday night against Carolina.

"He's dynamic in any offense," Rodgers said of Adams. "He's one of those transcendent players. He can play in any system because he can legitimately run any route and he has the knowledge to be able to set every route up."

Adams wasn't around for Rodgers' first MVP and was the team's No. 3 receiver as a rookie when he won his second. With the MVP talk swirling around Rodgers again, it's worth pondering whether Adams – with 1,144 receiving yards and a league-leading 14 TDs in just 11 games played – will garner attention for the AP's Offensive Player of the Year award.

He could also become the Packers' first receiver to earn AP first-team All-Pro honors since Antonio Freeman in 1998 (Nelson was second team in 2014).

The most historic achievement, though, would be a third MVP for Rodgers. Only five players have accomplished that in the annals of the AP award, which date back to 1957 – Peyton Manning (5) tops the list, followed by Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Johnny Unitas and Jim Brown (3 apiece).

"There's not many guys that have won three," Rodgers said. "So that would definitely mean a lot."

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