GREEN BAY – Jimmy Graham has a simple answer for when he’ll know his chemistry with Aaron Rodgers is where it needs to be.
“Yeah, I’ll be with the ball in the end zone,” he said. “Several games.”
The connection between the two-time MVP quarterback and his dynamic free-agent tight end remains in the developmental stage, but it’s definitely coming along.
Through three days of training camp, they’ve hit on several throws in the middle of the field, while on Saturday things weren’t quite clicking in the red zone.
Both are confident they’ll get to where they need to be soon enough. Rodgers said the other day it just comes down to getting more reps with Graham, which the five-time Pro Bowl pass catcher essentially reiterated after Saturday’s workout.
“We’ll just keep working on that,” Graham said. “It’s not him getting on my page, it’s me getting on his page. He’s been in this league a long time, knows too much, and I just have to catch up.
“We’ll just keep plugging away … and come Week 1, Week 2, 3, 4, 5, up to 16, we’ll be clicking, I’m pretty sure.”
There’s no lack of desire or effort on Graham’s part. When second-year safety Josh Jones wrecked a potential TD pass early in Saturday’s practice by possibly (depending on which one is asked) getting a piece of Graham’s facemask with the ball on its way, it led to some extra-curriculars.
Both players later brushed off the skirmish as the competitive rigors of camp, especially during the first real-contact day in pads.
“We haven’t put pads on since, what, Dec. 31?” Jones said. “We’re out there ready to get something going. Tempers can get the best of us. We won’t let that get in the way.”
Graham confirmed they spoke briefly on the field later, and it was over and done with.
“We’re just out there being competitive. He’s working on his, I’m working on mine,” Graham said.
“It’s nothing serious. I’ve been in way worse. We’re all family in here. We’re going to take care of each other. We have to be competitive, we have to get after each other like that and pretend like it’s the game. That’s the only way to get better, to take every rep for real.”
As far as taking care of teammates, that’s one of many aspects of Rodgers’ game Graham quickly has come to appreciate.
Graham described having no concerns about getting blindsided or surprised by a hit when Rodgers fires a pass his way, because he’s so aware of the entire field at all times.
“He’s always going to throw you open. He’s always going to throw it to the open spot,” Graham said. “He’s going to protect you, and he’s going to protect that ball. I know if he leads me out there that I can just run right through. I’ve got no worries in the world, because I know he’s the eyes in the back of my head.”
With the Packers having completed three of eight playbook installations – Family Night will serve as the final install practice – Graham is eager to have everything repped and to see Rodgers operate with everything at his disposal.
Graham wasn’t going to compare Rodgers to the other elite quarterbacks he’s played with (Drew Brees in New Orleans and Russell Wilson in Seattle), but another aspect of Rodgers’ game that has stood out to him is his adjustments and checks at the line of scrimmage.
“That dynamic is special, to be able to do that on any play he wants to,” Graham said. “He’s such a smart guy. It’s been incredible to see, his attention to detail, how much he knows. Not only about the defense but about what play to call and what to change it to. It’s pretty awesome.”
Which brings Graham to another simple answer, regarding what he likes most about Green Bay’s offense.
“Um, 12,” he said. “I mean …”