GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers doesn’t know how many receivers the Packers are going to keep, but he’s looking forward to seeing how it all sorts itself out.
“It’s going to be a lot of great competition,” Rodgers said prior to Monday night’s practice. “That’s exciting as a quarterback. We have a lot of guys who are going to be competing for those, really, three through however many spots they keep. It’s going to be fun to watch.”
Rodgers will have a front-row seat, of course, right behind the line of scrimmage as he and the Packers’ other three quarterbacks fire pass after pass in drills and 11-on-11 periods.
On Monday night at Ray Nitschke Field, Davante Adams was the star. Whether it was a feathery touch pass down one sideline or a spinning, one-handed grab along the other, the third-year pro was catching everything in sight from Rodgers. He also outjumped cornerback Quinten Rollins on a deep ball and hung on as both players crashed to the ground.
Jeff Janis also had a nice grab on a deep ball, this one from Brett Hundley, as Janis took it away from two defenders. It helped make up for a bad route earlier in practice that led to some words off to the side.
Such is the nature of the receiver competition, with new developments after practically every workout.
By virtue of playing quarterback, Rodgers will have an impact on the battle, but the final say will belong to General Manager Ted Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy, who likely don’t have a set number of receivers in their roster plan at the moment.
After the three specialists, that leaves 50 roster spots, and it’s never a given whether those will be split evenly on offense or defense, or if one side of the ball gets an extra player or two.
“It’s usually the best 53 that Ted and Mike will pick, and that varies from year to year. We’ve had years where we’ve kept five tight ends and limited the number of receivers and offensive linemen,” Rodgers said, adding that those two positions are the deepest on the team this year.
“We want to keep as many of those big guys as we can, and we have a lot of skill guys playing good, too. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all shakes out.
“It’ll shake out the right way, and those guys know they’re playing not just for our team but every other team out there.”
The first real showcase for the young receivers in the competition will be on Sunday in Canton, Ohio, in the Hall of Fame Game against Indianapolis to open the preseason.
Rodgers hasn’t discussed preseason playing time with McCarthy yet, but he said he’ll be ready to do whatever is asked.
It will be Rodgers’ first time in Canton at the Hall of Fame, and he plans to attend the induction of Brett Favre and former Green Bay outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene. He could be headed there for a gold jacket himself someday, of course.
“That’s a long way off,” he said. “I have an appreciation for the history of this league. I’ve been a sports fan all my life, and I’ve had the pleasure of playing with some incredible guys who are going to be wearing those jackets one day if they don’t already have them on. It’ll be fun to be there and see them achieve that.”
In the meantime, the Packers will hold three night practices at Ray Nitschke Field this week on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Rodgers believes most of his teammates prefer to roll out of bed and practice in the morning, but he’s “in the minority” in preferring the evening workouts.
“I think the intensity we have is always ratcheted up a little bit,” he said. “The fan support is always great for night practices. We’ve had some fights over the years at night practices, so it’ll be interesting to see after Family Night last night if there’s any kind of sore, grumpy guys out there.
“We’ve got day off tomorrow, so there shouldn’t be any excuses about the effort level tonight, but you might see a couple scuffles tonight.”