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Packers not distracted by Aaron Rodgers situation during OTAs

Individual improvement is the priority, with QB Jordan Love’s development front and center

Head Coach Matt LaFleur
Head Coach Matt LaFleur

GREEN BAY – While nothing has changed on the Aaron Rodgers front, Matt LaFleur's message to his players as the Packers began OTAs this week was to focus on themselves.

The common refrain of "control what you can control" was bantered about by those who spoke to the media on Tuesday, and for good reason. The Rodgers situation may not be resolved anytime soon, and the last thing LaFleur wants is for the players who are in Green Bay to be distracted from their opportunity for individual improvement over the next month.

"That is something we did talk about briefly with our team," LaFleur said after Tuesday's 90-minute workout on Clarke Hinkle Field. "I think you've always got to address any of the noise that's out there.

"The message is … try to be the best player each and every day, attack it with the right mindset, a great attitude, great energy and just try to get better as a player."

Rodgers' appearance on Kenny Mayne's final ESPN SportsCenter episode Monday night provided no clarity on what the Packers can do to mend the rift with their franchise quarterback. LaFleur simply reiterated what he said two weeks ago, that the team is continuing to work through this and wants him back.

As for the players who are practicing, which is roughly 90% of the roster, they seem to be heeding LaFleur's advice, insisting Rodgers' absence is not a distraction.

"Everybody has to focus on themselves as far as getting ready to play," safety Adrian Amos said. "Because regardless of what happens, we've got to go out there and the show goes on.

"Everybody has their personal situations, and you support everybody's personal situations, but I'm getting paid to go out there and perform. Regardless of what's going on around me, I'm getting judged by what I do."

Added defensive lineman Kenny Clark: "We've got to leave that situation to the organization and Aaron. We're going to go about our business."

For the Packers' offense, that means working on second-year QB Jordan Love's development, as recent veteran signee Blake Bortles is in attendance but not yet suiting up. LaFleur said Bortles would progress toward taking reps in OTAs eventually.

The workout also revealed what the Packers' plans appear to be for their offensive line until five-time All-Pro David Bakhtiari returns from ACL surgery.

Elgton Jenkins was holding down Bakhtiari's spot at left tackle, with Billy Turner at right tackle and rookie second-round pick Josh Myers first up at center. Jon Runyan and Lucas Patrick were the first two guards in the rotation.

Getting back to Love, the comments on his progress in these early stages are nothing surprising. With his knowledge of the offense has come better command in the huddle, which both LaFleur and running back Aaron Jones noted, and continued work on the fundamentals and reads/progressions will be the daily priority.

"He's definitely matured over the course of the year," LaFleur said of Love, who didn't have rookie minicamp or OTAs last year due to the pandemic. "He's still got a lot to learn. I think he can tell you that. But he's going to take it one day at a time. He goes out there with a purpose. I like his mindset right now."

The Packers were on the practice field Tuesday for the offseason program.

Love took all the snaps with the No. 1 offense in the seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 work, which were not full speed. That unit had none of its top receivers Tuesday, though, as Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, Devin Funchess and Equanimeous St. Brown were all not in attendance at the voluntary, non-padded session.

LaFleur is not aware of any coordinated effort by that position group to sit out. Right now with Love he's focused less on whom he's throwing to and more how he's executing in the different scripted situations.

"I think that our veteran guys on offense have a pretty good idea of what we want to be offensively, but there's a lot of youth in our group, so we're just going to throw it all at 'em," LaFleur said. "In order to get the max growth, you've got to get these guys uncomfortable. They might be asked to do something they've never done before."

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