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California workouts bonded Jordan Love with young pass-catchers 

Packers QB spearheaded rendezvous with Aaron Jones, young receivers this summer


GREEN BAY – Send the text and see what happens.

That's all Jordan Love and Aaron Jones were thinking as the Packers wrapped the offseason program in June and readied for one final break before the start of training camp.

On the eve of his first summer as Green Bay's starting quarterback, Love had a lot on his itinerary with a football camp in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower in France and another at his alma mater, Liberty High School, in Brentwood, Calif.

Looking to cultivate chemistry and camaraderie among his teammates in Green Bay, Love also discussed the idea with Jones about bringing some guys together for a workout. After Jones and second-year receiver Romeo Doubs ran routes for Love earlier in the offseason, why not invite others to join in on the fun?

"We were like, 'Hey, we should get as many guys out there as we can,'" recalled Jones, after Wednesday's first training camp practice, of his conversation with Love.

"Jordan spearheaded it after that and sent out the text messages, 'Hey, these are the days. If you can make it, great. If you can't, that's fine, but this is what we're going to be doing. We're going to bond. We're going to hang out. We're going to get on the field and work.'"

The text went out and sure enough the receivers came. In addition to Jones and Doubs, 2022 second-round pick Christian Watson, rookies Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks, and quarterback Danny Etling all traveled to Santa Ana, Calif., for a do-it-yourself minicamp.

They trained together and ran a few routes, but more importantly, the group bonded over dinners, conversations and even an impromptu bowling outing after original plans fell through to drive go-carts at a local speedway.

Jones fancied himself a decent bowler, but that balloon quickly deflated after Love tallied five strikes in a row to finish with a 198. At least, Jones joked, the QB picked up the tab for the evening.

"He cares about the guys in this locker room," said Jones of Love. "He wants to be successful, and he wants us to be successful. He wants all of us clicking when we come back here and make it easier on the coaches and ourselves. We've gone through that playbook. We got that conditioning in and we got to spend that time together, just bonding."

A consummate professional during his first three seasons in Green Bay, Love looked to check every leadership box while assuming the controls of the Packers' offense from future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

The former first-round pick spoke to the media no fewer than four times during the offseason program and again was back in front of the cameras after practice concluded Wednesday. For Love, organizing the small workouts was as much about building a rapport with his pass-catchers as it was X's and O's.

"We had a good time out there," Love said. "Usually in the offseason, you're throwing with other people that don't run the same routes that you run in your offense, so just being able to have that familiarity and build those connections with those guys was awesome."

Reed, a second-round pick out of Michigan State, found the workouts to be especially beneficial for himself and Wicks, a fifth-rounder out of Virginia. The two rookies got acclimated to life in the NFL during Green Bay's offseason program, but this California experience allowed them to get to know the Packers' elder statemen on a deeper level.

"We're a young group so we gotta do a little different, build a little chemistry faster than usual," Reed said. "It's just getting together, getting that brotherhood, getting to know the guy outside of football a little more. That just builds a lot more trust. That comes on the field whether you see it or not, that helps out when we're out there competing."

Happy with the results, Jones said he'd push for Love to get guys together again next summer for a workout. It's one thing for young receivers to get a feel for Love's tendencies as a passer, but camaraderie also was built between the quarterbacks and skill-position players during those few days in Orange County.

Jones points to Wicks, specifically, as a rookie whom he'd only exchanged a few words with during the offseason program in Green Bay. In California, the Pro Bowl running back got to learn about Wicks' upbringing and eventual path to the Packers.

This has been the ultimate offseason of change in Green Bay. In six weeks, Love will be the first quarterback not named Aaron Rodgers to start Week 1 for the Packers in 15 years. While there are no guarantees, the locker room stands in agreement that Love put his first offseason as QB1 to good use.

"I thought that might have been the best thing we've done this offseason was just to get together and to continue to keep working at the concepts," said Doubs, a native of Los Angeles who also trained with Love last year. "The timing, the route tree, how to run them, everything. I thought that was the best thing this offseason. We went bowling, we had a couple nice dinners out there."