By STEVE MEGARGEE – AP Sportswriter
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Defending MVP Aaron Rodgers was one of many notable veterans missing as the Green Bay Packers began organized team activities this week.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur confirmed Tuesday that Rodgers is not expected at all this week. The Packers will host more OTAs next week, but Rodgers will take part in “The Match” golf exhibition with fellow quarterbacks Josh Allen, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes on June 1.
“I spoke to him for a while last night, which was great, just to update him on where we are and go over a few of them, like we do every offseason,” said TheFlower. “There are always adjustments to what you do. He’s in a good mood and it was a great conversation. But I didn’t expect to see him at least this week.
During an appearance on Pat McAfee’s SiriusXM and YouTube Special Draft Last month, Rodgers said he planned to join the Packers for their mandatory minicamp in June and “probably a few more days in May.”
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Rodgers Skipped All OTAs as well as the Packers mini camp last year during a arm wrestling with team management, despite showing up to training camp on time and producing a second straight season MVP while leading the Packers to a third consecutive NFC North title.
He repeatedly said that his relationship with team officials such as general manager Brian Gutekunst has improved quite a bit over the past year. This is partly the reason Rodgers signed a contract extension rather than looking for a job or retiring.
Rodgers’ presence this offseason could be particularly helpful as he adjusts to a revamped receiving corps after the traded All-Pro receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders. The packers drafted three receivers, exchanged to take North Dakota State’s Christian Watson in the second round with the 34th overall pick and also selected Romeo Doubs of Nevada in the fourth round and Samori Touré of Nebraska in the seventh round.
Watson said Tuesday he’s spoken with Rodgers “a few times” since the draft.
“I would really like to see him here, but I know there will be vets coming later in the process,” Watson said. “We have veterans here who kind of take us under their wing right now, and (we) are able to learn from them. When he comes, he will come, and I’ll definitely pick his brains when he does.
Rodgers’ absence should give backup quarterback Jordan Love more rep as the 2020 first-round pick continues to make up for lost time from the pandemic-enforced virtual offseason in his rookie year. Love started on Packers 13-7 loss to Kansas City last season when Rodgers was unavailable due to a positive COVID-19 test.
“I think that’s Aaron’s game plan, he doesn’t really need that time right now, so I’m taking it,” Love said. “Him not being there, that just means more reps for me and more reps for everyone in the quarters room. So obviously, I love it.
NOTES: Other notable Packers absent from Tuesday’s volunteer practice include cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Rasul Douglas, wide receivers Allen Lazard and Sammy Watkins and outside linebackers Rashan Gary and Preston Smith. LaFleur said Watkins, who signed with the Packers last month, has “been here most of the offseason.” … LaFleur said the Packers will conduct joint workouts with the New Orleans Saints during training camp. Details and dates are still being worked out.
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