GREEN BAY – With the Sept. 4 regular-season opener fast approaching, Aaron Rodgers is apparently worried about the readiness of some of the youngsters the Green Bay Packers will be counting on this season, starting with the NFL Kickoff game against the defending Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks.
Taking the unusual step of speaking out publicly about teammates, Rodgers left very little room for interpretation with his comments Monday. While he didn’t name names, it’s clear that the 10th-year quarterback is ratcheting up the urgency meter with the preseason winding down.
“You know what? They need to catch up,” Rodgers told a large group of reporters at his locker Monday. “I think some of them are playing the right way, and some of them have got to catch up. They’re going to need to if they want to be on the field.”
Although he didn’t say it, Rodgers seemed to be referring to rookie wide receivers Davante Adams and Jeff Janis, who could be counted on to contribute immediately in the Packers’ high-powered up-tempo offense. Neither has exhibited the consistency a young wide receiver like Greg Jennings showed upon his arrival as a rookie in 2006. The Packers also figure to start rookie third-round pick Richard Rodgers at tight end, where Brandon Bostick (leg) is unlikely to play against the Seahawks and veteran Andrew Quarless has shown some rust after missing the entire offseason.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy has made it clear that he wants to increase the speed of the offense and try to manufacture more offensive snaps this season by expanding the use of the no-huddle offense. The Packers ranked 11th in total offensive plays last season with 67.
“We’re going to play the best guys, whether that’s putting an extra tight end on the field or putting an extra receiver on the field or taking a couple of those guys off and going with some two-back stuff with [fullback John] Kuhn out there,” Aaron Rodgers said. “Mike’s done a great job of really putting our best players on the field, regardless of the personnel set, whether it’s three receivers [with] two backs or two tight ends and one back or our zebra personnel (three wide receivers, one tight end, one back) that we run a lot of no-huddle stuff out of, it’s going to be the best players on the field. The best players are going to be the guys who are most prepared and do it in practice every single day.”
Asked to expound on his comments, Rodgers replied, “I think there’s a professionalism that we’re not quite at yet as far as production on the field and preparation. I think production is equal to the preparation that you put in during the week with your film study, with your practice habits, with your practice reps, with the conversations that we have and being able to carry those on the field. There’s walls that the young guys will hit … but you’ve got to push through that. You’ve got to find a way to improve. We’re ready for those walls and we can help the guys out, but at some point you need to start playing like a professional if you want to see significant game time action.”
Asked he was frustrated by the young players entering Thursday’s preseason finale against Kansas City, Rodgers said no.
“There’s no frustration; it’s just an expectation,” he said. “We’re into the last preseason game. We’re less than two weeks from the opener, and things pick up after this final game, after the cut down and guys will feel it. They’ll be less opportunities in practice and the opportunities in the game will be fewer until you make the most of them. It’s just a call to those guys to start stepping up their play because it’s going to start mattering here really quick.”
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