Packers minicamp: QB Jordan Love puts together impressive practice

2020 first-round draft pick enjoys his best day as a pro so far

QB Jordan Love

GREEN BAY – Jordan Love had himself a day.

His best day in a Packers uniform, almost certainly.

Wednesday's second practice of minicamp at Clarke Hinkle Field turned into the Love show as last year's first-round draft pick found some rhythm and confidence early, carried it through several 11-on-11 periods, and finished with a successful two-minute drill.

Amidst the drama surrounding quarterback Aaron Rodgers' absence from the offseason program and his conflict with the front office, Love has taken all the first-team snaps (and then some) since OTAs began two weeks ago.

The progress he's making truly showed up Wednesday.

"He needs every rep he can get right now," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said earlier this week. "He's a young quarterback that was not afforded a preseason last year, so we'll give him as many as he can handle.

"Every rep that he takes is so valuable, and he can learn something from both the good and the bad."

In the earlier OTA sessions, Love was visibly hesitant and methodical working through his progressions in the passing game, often taking easy check-down throws.

In Tuesday's first minicamp practice, he was more decisive and playing with better timing, but the accuracy on his passes wasn't reliable.

On Wednesday, it all appeared to come together more, starting with a bullet to Marquez Valdes-Scantling on a comeback route on his first 11-on-11 throw.

From there, he hit running backs AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones on deep routes from the backfield, connected with Juwann Winfree on crossing, corner and out routes, and took advantage of a free play with the defense offside to find Allen Lazard deep down the middle tightly covered by two defenders.

The positive reaction from his offensive teammates grew louder as practice wore on, and at one point, assistant coaches were fanning the young QB to cool him down.

"Sometimes you gotta remember that this is a game and it's supposed to be fun and we're supposed to enjoy it," Love said as he met with the media for the first time since his rookie training camp last summer.

"I think anything you do that's just doing good and performing at a high level, it'll definitely take your confidence up and just let you be more comfortable out there and play smoother."

It wasn't a perfect day by any means, as Love misfired on a few throws and nearly saw Darnell Savage and Josh Jackson pick him off on passes they deflected.

But then he completed his strong day with a 70-yard TD drive in two-minute. The possession featured some chain-moving throws to running backs, a deep corner route and slant to Equanimeous St. Brown, and a screen to Dillon before the scoring toss to Lazard, who reached high to snare the throw with a toe-tap in the back of the end zone.

"It just goes back to kind of taking what's there, and the opportunities presented themselves today for him to take some shots down the field," said LaFleur, who also felt the offense as a whole executed better after a rough practice Tuesday.

"One emphasis for Jordan is just to treat each play as its own entity. We're always grading the decision-making, the timing, the accuracy and we want to see the consistency just continue to get better and better."

Take a look at the Packers' second practice of minicamp at Clarke Hinkle Field on Wednesday, June 9, 2021.

That's his next challenge – stacking successful days – with the spotlight squarely on him during the ongoing Rodgers drama.

While declaring he'll "definitely" be ready to start Week 1 if it comes to that, Love said he's ignoring "the outside noise" and is simply concentrating on getting prepared to play, which would be his focus whether Rodgers attended these sessions or not.

"That's been my mindset since I got here," he said. "I have to get myself ready to play and be able to go out there and take charge of the team."

His teammates already noticed progress in that area prior to Wednesday's highlight-filled practice.

All-Pro receiver Davante Adams said Love understandably stayed in the background last year as a rookie behind Rodgers. But this year, Adams – who sat out the first two weeks of OTAs – could already sense the change in his first practice with Love as the first-team QB on Tuesday.

"He's tapped into it," Adams said. "I see he has a heightened awareness and his focus is definitely off the charts right now.

"I can tell the way he's coming in talking to everybody. I hear him more. Last year I felt like he kind of just blended in. This year I'm starting to feel him, and it's good that he's starting to step into his own, get more comfortable."

That goes for everything his coaches have commented on over the past couple of weeks. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said even with so many limitations during his rookie year, Love learned the language of the system to get that "off his plate" and get him onto techniques and the finer details in Year 2.

QB coach/passing game coordinator Luke Getsy added that learning all the different types of footwork the offense requires at his position has been a top priority throughout the spring.

"He's in the phase of identifying the footwork that matches a concept that matches a route," Getsy said last week. "He's working his tail off to find that rhythm, to find what it looks like every single time, and he's not satisfied when he gets it right and the next time he doesn't get it right. The consistency is what we're going to continue to improve on."

Love has one more minicamp practice followed by one more week of OTAs to see what level of consistency he can reach and subsequently take into training camp.

Wednesday provided a huge building block in that regard, and whether he's the No. 1 or 2 QB for the first day of camp in late July, Love will be pushed hard to keep moving forward.

"We're coaching the heck out of each snap and being really critical of every little detail," LaFleur said. "It's so important just making sure the fundamentals, the footwork, the decision- making, the timing … making sure you're in a good body position to throw an accurate football … I think we try to comb through and just get every little detail, and there's a lot to coach up."

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