Packers offseason wrap-up: LaFleur 'excited' about 2021 team, has plans for training camp in place

QB Jordan Love, new defense both works in progress heading into summer break

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QB Jordan Love and Head Coach Matt LaFleur

GREEN BAY – Quarterback uncertainty or not, Matt LaFleur likes his team.

"We're excited about training camp. We're excited about this football team," LaFleur said Thursday as he wrapped up the offseason program. "I think the character of this team is really high.

"The challenge is can you re-create that magic that we've been able to the last couple years and become a close-knit, connected team with great player leadership? We're excited about what the future could hold."

The looming question is whether that player leadership will include the reigning league MVP, quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who sat out the entire offseason and may or may not show up in 5½ weeks when training camp begins.

His absence put the focus the past couple of months squarely on second-year QB Jordan Love , who took almost all of the 11-on-11 snaps throughout OTAs and minicamp.

Because the 2020 first-round draft pick had no on-field offseason work or preseason games as a rookie, this spring served as his fast-paced crash course in running LaFleur's offense. He went through the predictable ups and downs, and the coaches directed their energies to helping him navigate those rather than pondering whether he'll be the starting QB or backup in practice come late July.

Either way, the three preseason games in August will be vitally important for Love in his development.

"Jordan came in with the right mindset," LaFleur said. "Every rep for him is so critical. He's done a great job of embracing just the whole situation, embracing learning from every rep.

"You've got to be able to ride that wave. You're never too high, you're never too low."

Defensively, the unit has finished its introduction to new coordinator Joe Barry's scheme and the adjustments that'll be made from the past. Barry's staff of largely holdover assistants helped ease the transition to put a veteran-laden defense in perhaps a better place than it otherwise might've been.

LaFleur considered the spring a "foundation" for the defense that will be built upon through training camp, but – much like the offense if indeed there's a QB change – he confessed there's no way to know how exactly things will go on that side of the ball until the real games.

"I think we've got a great scheme in place," LaFleur said. "We'll try to be creative in terms of trying to get the matchups we'd like to present to the guys and how we want to attack the opponents.

"Really excited about where it would go but we'll find out Week 1. You've got to go out there and earn it each and every week."

That'll be true of the rookie class as well when camp gets underway. The Packers' first three draft picks – cornerback Eric Stokes, center Josh Myers and receiver Amari Rodgers – who all could play significant roles on the team from the get-go, but they'll have to prove themselves.

In the meantime, it's rest and recharge for a while, and see if any news emerges regarding Rodgers. LaFleur said the structure of camp won't change based on the QB situation.

"We'll have one plan," he said. "We've got what we feel is a pretty good blueprint in terms of how to get our guys ready to play.

"We feel confident with what we'll have in place with the guys. We'll look forward to getting them back July 27."

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