Brett Favre looks on as Aaron Rodgers fires a pass during his first professional training camp practice.
No one is more elated that Aaron Rodgers reported to Sunday's Green Bay Packers practice than his older brother Luke. Since last Sunday, Aaron has kept his arm in shape by throwing 100 balls-a-day to his 23-year-old sibling in the backyard of his new house.
"My brother's hands have been hurting," said Aaron, now sporting a beard.
The first-round draft pick, who agreed to terms with the Packers on Saturday night, had an auspicious debut. After a few errant throws, his arm warmed up, and he made crisp throws during the first passing drill of the day.
"He looked pretty good," head coach Mike Sherman said. "He looked like he had a good night's sleep. He understands what we were doing."
As one would expect, Rodgers did make some plays typical for a rookie in his first day of training camp. During team drills he scrambled on his first two plays without attempting a pass. Cornerback Chris Day picked off another throw.
Rodgers, however, displayed a live arm. He rolled out of the pocket to avoid defensive lineman Kenny Peterson's pass rush and hit tight end Ben Steele for a completion in the morning session. Rodgers threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Javon Walker during the afternoon session.
"He had touch on the ball," wide receiver Robert Ferguson said. "He throws a real catchable pass."
The rookie's performance peaked in the afternoon as he completed three consecutive passes to Steele, Donald Driver and Walker.
Rodgers' mastery of the playbook, often the toughest challenge for any rookie quarterback, also has been impressive.
"I feel a lot more comfortable with the offense," he said. "That's the key for me to get to a comfort level where I can just react instead of thinking."
To help his reaction time, Rodgers met with quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell for two weeks following the June organized team activity. From 7:30 to 8:30 each morning, Rodgers would discuss the offense and throw at the Don Hutson Center, working on the timing as he dropped back to pass. He also studied the playbook at home.
"I haven't been here," Rodgers said. "But I've been in training camp mode."
Sherman said his experience during the OTAs helped him. But like any rookie, he has a long way to go. Rodgers even referred to himself as the third-string holder and fourth-string quarterback.
"We didn't ask him to do a whole lot," Bevell said. "He wasn't out there for 50 plays or anything. He performed well in the plays he was in there."
The coaching staff does not plan to alter his mechanics right now. Rodgers will focus on understanding the offense during the first couple of weeks of training camp.
"I've got to make sure he knows what he's doing in the offense right now," Bevell said.
His training camp roommate can commiserate with any growing pains. He shares a St. Norbert College dormitory room with friend and fellow rookie Terrence Murphy. Rodgers signed early enough to spend the night there on Saturday.
Having spent a portion of his new contract on a new house, he will have a more luxurious residence in the future. Rodgers furnished the house during the last week.
A reporter asked him what he plans to do with rest of his money.
"Take care of Mom and Dad and sock the rest away," he said.
While his parents reside in Chico, Calif., Rodgers knows his future rests in Green Bay.
"It's great to be back," the 21-year-old said immediately following his first practice.
Rodgers could have been speaking for the Green Bay Packers organization, their fans and certainly his brother, Luke.