GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers isn’t letting any details slide.
Whether it’s the learning curve of his young teammates or his own fitness and nutrition, Rodgers is putting everything he has into getting the Packers on top and keeping them there for as long as he can.
“Every year is not guaranteed in this league,” Rodgers said on Monday. “You have to approach every season as you’re going to go all-in, and hope you can stay healthy and keep going after that.
“We’re going to go all-in this year and we’re going to ask a lot of our young guys, so anything we can do to bring them along and get them ready to play, we’re going to do.”
In Monday’s OTA practice open to the media inside the Don Hutson Center, Rodgers could be seen chatting with rookie receiver Trevor Davis after the two misconnected on a route.
Walking the leadership line between scolding a teammate and delivering constructive criticism, Rodgers got his point across to Davis. The veteran QB believes he has to maximize his time, even in early June, with any players who might make a difference on offense this coming season.
“You have to test it out and see how they respond,” Rodgers said. “You talk to ’em and you lead ’em and you get on ’em. Like I would tell him, I’m only going to get on somebody I care about and I think can be a player. I’m not going to waste my time, unless I believe in a guy, and I believe in those young guys. I want them to come along.
“We have to get these guys up to speed quickly.”
There’s more of an onus on the young players to study and prepare on their own now because of reduced offseason workout time, but it’s just as important to make the most of on-field work before rookies like Davis get to their first pro training camp.
“When this thing ends here next week and we come back in six weeks, there won’t be any grace period,” Rodgers said. “It’s going to be 100 miles an hour, running our offense, and guys need to come back ready to play.”
Rodgers came back this offseason ready for now and the long haul. Cutting dairy out and transitioning to more of a vegan diet (with the occasional meat exception), Rodgers said he’s lighter now – in the 218-pound range – than he’s been since 2007, before he was a starter.
The impetus for the nutrition change was two-fold. Following knee surgery right after the 2015 season, he wanted to be careful of eating foods that could cause inflammation. He also did his own research and spoke with team nutritionist Adam Korzun and friends around the league about how he can keep his game at a top level for as long as possible.
“I think I can extend my career if I continue to eat a little bit better,” he said. “Because it carries over not just to the offseason, but what you’re eating the night before the game and what you’re eating in the morning and the afternoon – if it’s a night game – how that affects your performance.”
Sounding confident about what the Packers have in place on offense in 2016, with the return of receiver Jordy Nelson and the addition of tight end Jared Cook, Rodgers shied away from making any grand pronouncements.
He’s still working through, with Nelson in particular, some of the changes to the playbook and the accompanying nuances to the offense. If the comparisons of Cook to Jermichael Finley as a middle-of-the-field playmaker come to fruition, and if Eddie Lacy returns to prior form running the ball, Rodgers is curious how defenses will combat Green Bay.
When the Packers’ offense had its record-setting explosion in 2011, Rodgers said they saw a lot of two deep safeties, because the running game wasn’t as potent.
“If teams want to play cover-2 against us and shade a safety to Jordy’s side, we’re going to have to run the ball effectively,” he said.
“The trend now is a lot of one-high stuff, and that comes out of Seattle and Denver, what they’re doing with their corners, drafting and signing big corners to lock down receivers, and stop the run. If they do that, you get one-on-one matchups outside.”
Those are the matchups the Packers will be forced to win, and Rodgers believes the personnel is there to do so.
“I like the energy we’ve got,” he said. “I like the way we’re practicing.”
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