When Aaron Rodgers reported to training camp last week, he finally aired his displeasure with the front office and general manager Brian Gutekunst. Clearly a work in progress, Rodgers and Gutekunst have been seen at least once talking. However, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will the relationship between Rodgers and Gutekunst.
From the very beginning, Rodgers had nothing personal against Jordan Love, who the Packers drafted last season. In fact, Rodgers has reached out to Jordan and is taking his mentorship professionally and seriously.
Head coach Matt LaFleur said last week that the coaching staff would have to get Rodgers caught up on changes to the offense. Of course, the longtime signal caller for the Packers doesn’t agree with everything in the playbook, but he learned to pick and choose his battles.
Rodgers appeared to have not missed a beat from his MVP season last year. Although working out at home, he didn’t have receivers to throw to, but was sharp from the very start of camp, not to the surprise of wide receiver Allen Lazard.
Speaking of the receiving group, Rodgers knows there is a battle going on. Four or five receivers are likely a lock to make the roster, but there are still spots to be won at the bottom of the roster and the practice squad. Rodgers has taken notice that there are “a lot of guys in the mix.”
Rodgers noted specifics about several players in the mix. Devin Funchess, who is back after being off last year, is a “big, strong, talented guy who has played at a high level before.”. Rodgers likes what he’s seen out of Juwann Winfree, adding “he has had a really nice offseason. He looks, body-wise, differently.” Rodgers also noted that Malik Taylor and Equanimeous St. Brown made the roster last year and made strides and expects continued improvement.
The locks for the team should be Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, and rookie Amari Rodgers. With an extra game this season and expanded practice squads, the Packers could keep upwards of seven receivers.
Unlike many other NFL teams, the competition at wide receiver for the Packers could be more intriguing and competitive. Breaking down the candidates on the bubble, Funchess is a second-round pick with 165 career receptions. It will be interesting to see what he has in the tank after missing the majority of the last two seasons(the last of which was based on his decision to skip the 2020 season because of COVID).
St. Brown and Taylor made the roster a year ago and have at least a couple years of experience in LaFleur’s system. Originally a sixth-round selection by the Denver Broncos, Winfree has been with the Packers for over a year and jumped out during workout programs in the offseason. At the bottom of the list, but still competing for a spot on the practice squad, are Chris Blair, DeAndre Thompkins, and Reggie Begelton.
After having talks with Gutekunst for greater input on the roster, Rodgers may just get his way as to which receivers make the team.
Rodgers clearly indicated what he intends to see out his receivers:
- alignment and the assignment
- understanding the game
- do one thing great
- has to be something they do exceptionally
- maturity on the field
- secure with themselves
- professional and prepared
There is a little more than a month before the start of the 2021 NFL season. That gives all receivers time to prove they belong on the same field as the “professional thrower”, as mentioned by Lazard.
Quotes are via ESPN and USAToday