GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Aaron Rodgers dropped back and threw a high-arcing pass, the ball just skipping off the edge of a net stationed in the corner of the end zone about 20 yards away.
As the crowd swooned at Green Bay Packers minicamp Tuesday, the quarterback slapped his hands in disappointment as if he had just missed an open receiver for a touchdown at midseason. Going into his 10th year in the league, Rodgers is as competitive as ever in the offseason.
”It’s the opportunity to build team chemistry with the guys. It’s the challenge of beating up on Dom (Capers) and his defense,” said Rodgers, jokingly referring to the team’s defensive coordinator.
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”And it’s proving yourself to young guys that haven’t seen you in action other than on TV over the years as I’ve become one of the older guys in the locker room,” Rodgers added. ”But I have said that in the past – if I can’t be an almost-to-a-completely full offseason participator, then I’m going to move on. I plan on being here for a long time.”
Rodgers is a well-paid constant on an offense that undergoes some turnover each year given the front office’s ”draft-and-develop” philosophy. This offseason, the receiving corps is in a bit younger with veteran James Jones gone and three rookies joining the team from the draft.
Jermichael Finley, the starter at tight end the past few seasons, remains a free agent after getting sidelined in October with a neck injury. Green Bay added tight end Richard Rodgers from the draft.
Rodgers, the Packers’ first-round pick in 2005, doesn’t think the added youth adds more work.
”It’s the same, it’s just different guys,” Rodgers said. ”You know you look for ways to get to know your new teammates, you try to work on your timing in the spring and you get yourself and your offense ready for training camp.”
Coach Mike McCarthy sees it a little differently. He said some changes have been made on offense to make it easier for newer players, though in the end the biggest change was actually for Rodgers.
”But it was the best thing for the group, so he had a little more studying to do this year than in prior years. I think he’s handled that very well,” McCarthy said. He said it shows on the practice field in ball efficiency, for instance, which has been one of the points of emphasis this season.
Rodgers did yoga in the offseason, which he has said helps with flexibility as he gets older. Rodgers, 30, had a left collarbone injury that knocked him out for much of the second half last season.
He stayed away from some heavy lifting, especially with his shoulders. Took rehab slow and feels good, he said earlier in the offseason.
There’s a different voice in the quarterbacks room with position coach Alex Van Pelt sliding over to new responsibilities after overseeing running backs last year. Van Pelt replaced Ben McAdoo, now offensive coordinator of the New York Giants.
”We’re talking, teaching the same system obviously. But sometimes the language can be different. the style of coaching can be a little bit different,” Van Pelt said. ”The key for him is just to lock in and he’s done a great job of that.”
Rodgers also appears to be more comfortable with the media scrutiny that comes with being one of the most of the most recognizable players in the NFL. A photo circulating on the Internet recently shows Rodgers kissing actress Olivia Munn.
Rodgers, a noted basketball fan, also deftly sidestepped a question at his locker Tuesday about whether he’d be interested in becoming an investor with the new ownership group of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks.
No camera phones or social media sites back when Brett Favre was quarterback the Packers in the 1990s, Rodgers noted.
”It’s been a natural progression as you start to think about the things that are important and the things that you should be worrying about and the things that are out of your control,” he said about attention on his personal life. ”For me, as I get older, I love this game, I enjoy my privacy, but I realize it comes with a territory when you have success. Come what may, as far as that goes.”
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