Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said his relationship with General Manager Brian Gutekunst is a “work in progress,” but he has nothing but affection for the man Gutekunst drafted as his possible replacement: backup Jordan Love.
Rodgers returned to the Packers last week, reporting on time for training camp after an offseason in which he made clear he was unhappy with the organization. The three-time MVP skipped Green Bay’s organized team activities and mandatory minicamp, and he acknowledged he doesn’t know whether he will be back with Green Bay next season, saying he just wants to focus on this year.
Love took the majority of reps at minicamp and likely would have been the Packers’ starter this season if Rodgers hadn’t returned, a situation for which Rodgers has some sympathy. Rodgers did his part by staying in touch with his understudy.
“I didn’t hold things from him,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “I let him know where I was at mentally and what I was thinking about. And hopefully he appreciated that. I just felt that’s what I would want in that situation, just to hear from the guy.”
As for Gutekunst, the conversation hasn’t always flowed as freely, but Rodgers said their recent communication has been positive.
“Relationships aren’t formed in a matter of a couple days,” Rodgers said. “There’s time where the respect grows and the communication follows. I think the greatest relationships that you have with your friends and loved ones involved conversation and flow. You can not talk to a close friend for a few months and pick up right where you left off. There’s no break in communication, there’s no forced conversations or you’ve got to hit this person up because it’s on your to-do list that day.
“It’s all about wanting to have those conversations and wanting to be in conversation like that, and we’ve had a couple conversations, and they’ve been positive conversations.”
Both men last week used the word “professional” to describe their relationship.
The 37-year-old Rodgers said last week that his concerns included wanting to have a voice in the Packers’ decision-making process and believing the organization didn’t treat departing high-character veterans with enough respect. He also had expressed an interest in helping the Packers recruit free agents.
On the practice field, Rodgers has looked like himself, without obvious signs of rust. He is coming off an MVP season in which he threw a league-high 48 touchdown passes with only five interceptions. He led the NFL in passer rating and completion percentage while directing the NFL’s highest-scoring offense.
“I mean, he’s the best in the game,” receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling said. “It’s Aaron Rodgers. There’s no other way to put it.”
JETS: New York signed well-traveled veteran quarterback Josh Johnson, providing an experienced backup behind rookie Zach Wilson. Linebacker Brendon White, an undrafted free agent from Rutgers, was waived to make room for Johnson.
The 35-year-old Johnson fills a void in the Jets’ quarterbacks room, which had Wilson, Mike White and James Morgan – none of whom has taken a regular-season snap in an NFL game. Johnson, who was on the field for practice Wednesday, has played in 33 games with eight starts. He has 1,632 yards passing with eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions while serving mostly as a backup throughout his career.
Coach Robert Saleh said the Jets had been talking to Johnson throughout the offseason, but insisted his presence won’t do anything to deter the development of White or Morgan.
“He’s a tremendous pro,” said Saleh, who was with Johnson last year in the QB’s third stint with the 49ers. “He knows our system and as far as understanding the whys of our system, the hows of our system and how to be a pro, just to bring that into the room as a presence.”
GIANTS: Center Joe Looney retired out of nowhere just four days after signing with the team, a source told the New York Daily News.
Looney, 30, stepped away due to a personal situation and not because of any issue with coach Joe Judge’s program, a source said.
The center’s agent told NFL Network that “his body didn’t respond the way it needed to” and “he has too much respect for the Giants and Coach [Jason] Garrett,” to stay.
The Giants offensive coordinator was Looney’s head coach for four seasons in Dallas from 2016-19. Looney said Monday that his family is still in Dallas, too.
The veteran center’s first two practices included Monday penalty laps for early snaps and Tuesday gassers and push-ups after a team-wide brawl. But a source said he and the Giants parted ways amicably.
RAMS: A piece of white tape wrapped around the base of his right thumb and a tan bandage on its joint were the only signs Tuesday that Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford had left practice early the previous day after hitting his throwing hand on a helmet. Stafford was back in action, much to the surprise – and relief – of Coach Sean McVay.
“Earlier today we were planning on him not practicing, and then he came out and he said, ‘No, I’m practicing.’ OK, you want to practice? Let’s go,” McVay said.
Stafford bruised his thumb Monday. X-rays did not show any fractures, and there were no indications of torn muscles, McVay said. It’s the same thumb Stafford had surgery on earlier this year after playing with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament last season.
TITANS: The Tennessee Titans might have to wait a while before their highly talented trio of receivers are all together at full strength.
A.J. Brown has been the team’s top offensive performer after a week of camp, looking better than ever after offseason minor surgery on both knees. The same can’t be said for Julio Jones or Josh Reynolds, their two big offseason acquisitions at the position.
Jones missed his second consecutive day of practice. He left practice early Monday, landing awkwardly in the end zone after failing to come down with a pass. It was the first day that Jones – who missed seven games with a hamstring injury last season – had participated in full-team drills.
Coach Mike Vrabel didn’t offer a timetable for Jones’ return, but also didn’t sound as if the seven-time Pro Bowler – acquired from Atlanta via trade during the offseason – was close to rejoining his teammates.
Meanwhile, Reynolds left the Titans’ second training-camp practice early with an unspecified injury and has yet to return. Vrabel also suggested a cautious approach bringing Reynolds back.