5 storylines worth following from Packers OTAs
Aaron Rodgers is not present at the Packers’ organized team activities, but there’s far more going on that doesn’t concern the reigning MVP’s discontent with his team. Here are five storylines worth following at the Packers’ organized team activities.
1 - Jordan Love as QB1
With Aaron Rodgers out of the picture, Jordan Love gets the opportunity to run the show. He is the de facto starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers right now. Whether or not he remains so is kind of beside the point, because right now he’s the top dog.
And what an opportunity this is! He gets to show Matt LaFleur his command of the offense. He gets to show Brian Gutekunst how far he's come since the Packers took him in the first round a year ago. And he gets to show his teammates what he can do as well. This is his first real chance to show other players on the Packers that there was a reason he was a first round pick.
And it’s hard not to root for him, too, because Jordan Love’s success is great in so many ways. As a fan, Love playing well is great for the Packers. AS someone covering the Packers, it’s a great storyline. And as a human being you almost can't help but hope he succeeds because he didn’t ask for any of this. He didn’t ask to be put in a situation where he’s causing tension between a Hall of Fame quarterback and his franchise. He didn't ask to have all this undue attention from a fan base. He didn't ask for any of it. He just wants to go out and play football. And now he has an opportunity to do that.
So how will he handle himself? How will he approach things both on and off the field. When he’s got to sit in those Zoom calls with reporters, how will he handle the inevitable questions about Aaron Rogers? How does he handle just being a starting NFL quarterback, even if it’s only for a little while? It’ll be interesting to see.
2 - Non-Rodgers absences
The second noteworthy storyline is all of the Packers’ non-Aaron Rogers absences, specifically the numerous wide receivers that are not present. Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scnatling, Allen Lazard, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Devin Funchess were all not present for the first day of OTAs, and there’s no indication any of them will show up any time soon.
Matt LaFleur said he didn’t think this was some kind of coordinated thing, but it’s interesting that all of them were gone at once. They were joined by Aaron Rodgers (of course), David Bakhtiari (who’s recovering from a torn ACL), Jaire Alexander, Ka’Dar Hollman, and Stanford Samuels.
Each of these guys has his own reasons for doing this, and it’s certainly their right to come to a non-mandatory offseason activity. But it’s worth keeping an eye on because this has been going on league-wide. There has been an increasing push for lighter offseason activities, and that push is likely to continue even though the players just had an opportunity to collectively bargain for changes to the offseason schedule last spring.
But even if that’s the case, it seems clear this isn’t going away any time soon, and it’s important to acknowledge when and how it affects the Packers.
3 - Elgton Jenkins at left tackle
The first of two interesting stories on the offensive line concerns Elgton Jenkins, who appeared at left tackle in relief of David Bakhtiari. Granted, this is just organized team activities. Granted, it’s only May. Sure, David Bakhtiari could theoretically be back by the start of the regular season. But the fact that Elgton Jenkins is getting the first crack at being the starting left tackle with Bakhtiari out merits mention.
Billy Turner has done it before to mixed results. Now they’re trying out Jenkins in that spot, giving him another high-profile position to add to his growing list here in year number three. He’s already been the Packers’ starting left guard for a large chunk of a season. He filled in at center for an extended time last year. Now, he’s getting a shot at playing the most noteworthy position on the offensive line.
4 - Josh Myers at center
Elsewhere on the offensive line, Josh Myers, the rookie out of Ohio State and the Packers’ second round pick this spring, appears to be the starter at center. We should probably call this position battle over right now, such as it is. He is not going to give this job back, partly because his biggest “competition” is playing left tackle right now. If Myers shows any kind of ability at center, and the Packers plan to leave Jenkins at left tackle for any amount of time, this should be all but over.
Even when David Bakhtiari returns, it seems likely the Packers will just bump Elgton Jenkins inside to left guard. That leaves them with a line of Bakhtiari, Jenkins, and second-round pick Josh Myers from left tackle to center. That seems like a winning combination.
5 - Aaron Jones, narrative buster.
Finally, we have to talk about Aaron Jones busting a national media storyline. It’s been interesting to see what about the Aaron Rodgers rumors has turned out to be true as the story has played on. Some has been borne out by additional reporting, and what’s faded away or been disproved.
One of the more salacious bits of the Aaron Rogers storyline has been a report that Rodgers, as far back as the middle of last season, was telling presumptive Packers free agents not to re-sign with the Packers because he was not going to be there. But people have quickly pointed out that if that was true, it didn’t appear to have stopped anyone from returning to the Packers. Kenny Clark re-signed. So did David Bakhtiari. And so did Aaron Jones. So Aaron Rodgers, it seems, was either not very persuasive, or this was not happening at all.
If you believe what Aaron Jones said in Green Bay this week, the latter is the truth. He said Rogers never talked to him about not re-signing with the Packers, and even if he had, it wouldn’t have made any difference, because he likes it so much in Green Bay.
It’s a small thing, but it’s a good reminder that everything we hear about this ongoing situation may not be absolutely true.