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Jordan Love preparing his own path as Packers' QB1

The pressure of the gig? “That’s what I signed up for.”

QB Jordan Love
QB Jordan Love

GREEN BAY – The word of the year for Jordan Love will be balance.

The Packers' new starting quarterback will have to balance stepping in for Aaron Rodgers without trying to be Rodgers. He'll have to maintain a steadfast belief and confidence in himself knowing there will be rough moments to fight through. And he'll have to process all the scrutiny he'll be subjected to without letting it get to him or affect his game.

Working in Love's favor, despite just one NFL start and seven quarters of meaningful regular-season football under his belt since being drafted in the first round out of Utah State in 2020, is that he gets all that. The constant balancing act is an accepted part of the deal as the Packers turn over the team to him in 2023 following Rodgers' long and decorated career in Green Bay.

"No matter where you're gonna be at, it's gonna be pressure," Love said Wednesday in the Lambeau Field auditorium, his first media session since officially becoming the Packers' starting QB following the trade of Rodgers to the Jets. "You're an NFL quarterback. There's only so many of you so everyone's watching you. Everyone's watching every move you make on the field.

"So, it's pressure, but that's what comes with the position. That's what I signed up for, that's what I knew I was getting myself into, and it comes down to me just making the most of that."

As he attacks the dual task of taking over for a four-time MVP while trying to establish his own extended presence in Green Bay – he worked out a contract extension with the Packers after the draft that gives him essentially two years to prove himself – Love has loads of support, from both the front office and the locker room.

General Manager Brian Gutekunst, who executed the Rodgers trade after some drawn-out negotiations with New York, has said over and over again this offseason that Love is ready to play. Head Coach Matt LaFleur has echoed the sentiment.

Love's teammates also are declaring they'll have his back, as they've respected the professional way he went about backing up Rodgers for three years while itching to get his opportunity.

"He believes in himself, he cares about everybody around him and we've seen him just come in consistently and just work, work, work," running back Aaron Jones said. "He did it the right way, he waited his time and you never heard one peep or complaint out of him. He has everyone's full respect and we're all going to go lay it out on the line for him."

Jones added that in his relatively short time thus far as "the guy," Love has shown the leadership that comes with his newfound status. He has transitioned from commanding the huddle at practice here and there over three years to commanding the meeting room when necessary.

Some of that he learned from Rodgers, watching and absorbing everything he could about his day-to-day approach to the job. At the same time, he's tried to inject his own energy into that process, knowing the stable of first- and second-year receivers and tight ends he'll be counting on in the passing game will be maturing as NFL players right along with him.

"We'll get the opportunity to grow together, learn each other, learn what we like, learn what we want, and it's easier with younger guys," Love said, referring to the three receivers the Packers drafted last year (Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure), plus the two tight ends and three additional receivers chosen this year (Luke Musgrave, Tucker Kraft, Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks and Grant DuBose).

"They haven't been around other guys that want it a certain way, want things to look like this, so it's easier to get my point across of how I want things run. It will be good. I think it will be great to be around these young guys."

Growing pains are inevitable, though, and for everything he's learned from Rodgers about footwork and fundamentals, practice habits and film study, checks and reads, Love knows he has to experience the emotions and the grind for himself.

"My thing is just keep growing," he said. "I know it's not going to be easy, I know there's going to be ups and downs. And the thing I'm going to tell guys (is), 'Stick together, stay together through the whole process, and the tighter we can get a bond together as a team, the easier it's going to be to face these challenges.'"

Which brings it back to the required balancing act. When Rodgers took over for a three-time MVP and Super Bowl champion in Brett Favre, he found his own equilibrium, carrying himself with the confidence of his predecessor but without trying to be the same daring gunslinger with the ball in his hands.

Love doesn't expect to be making odd-angle throws off his back foot like Rodgers, but he'll take with him what Rodgers saw on the field that prompted the attempts, and then find what works best for him in those moments.

That's how he led two fourth-quarter drives to produce 10 points last November in Philadelphia against the eventual NFC champion Eagles, an outing that publicly reinforced the organization's belief in him while privately confirming his own self-assurance.

"Just go in there with confidence and don't be afraid to make mistakes," Love said of his key takeaway from that night. "I was just able to show what I've always believed."

Now comes his chance, over the long haul, to show everybody else.

"I know he's hungry," teammate and defensive lineman Kenny Clark said. "He's hungry to ball out. To get a chance to go out and show what he's all about, that's what you want.

"He's hungry, and he's a guy that's going to put in the work and get it done."

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