GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love acknowledges the burden that comes along with replacing a four-time MVP.
He welcomes the scrutiny that’s sure to follow him all season.
“You’re an NFL quarterback,” Love said Wednesday while talking to reporters for the first time since the Packers traded Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets.
“There’s only so many of you. So everyone’s watching you. Everyone’s watching every move you make on the field, so it’s pressure. But that’s what comes with the position. That’s what I signed up for, that’s what I knew I was getting myself into, and it comes down to me just making the most of that.”
After backing up Rodgers the past three seasons, Love finally has his chance to show what he can do. Love said he and Rodgers have spoken since last month’s trade.
“He wished me the best and (said he’s) always there for me if I need anything, if I have any questions or anything,” said Love, the 26th overall pick in the 2020 draft. “I’m always just grateful to be around him and for the time I had with him, to be able to learn and be behind him.”
Love understood as soon as the Packers drafted him that he’d have to wait longer to play regularly than most first-round picks. The situation still tested his patience, particularly after Rodgers signed a contract extension last year that seemed to indicate he would be finishing his career in Green Bay.
“I’ll admit, I think the hardest time was when he re-signed the contract last year,” Love said. “It was kind of like, ‘OK, well, where do we go from here? What do I do?’ And I think I sat back, thought to myself and just came back with the approach, like, ‘Let’s just go ball out any opportunity I get.’”
His opportunity came last November in Philadelphia when a rib injury sidelined Rodgers and caused Love to enter the game with the Packers trailing 37-23. Love went 6 of 9 for 113 yards with a touchdown that night, though the Packers still lost 40-33.
That performance backed up the comments of teammates and coaches who said Love had made remarkable strides. They’d seen Love benefit from taking more first-team reps last season while a broken thumb limited Rodgers’ practice time.
Love already had impressed them off the field with the way he’d handled his lack of playing opportunities.
“He did it the right way,” running back Aaron Jones said. “He waited his time and you never heard one peep or complaint out of him.”
Love now finds himself having to emerge as a leader. Even though he’s made only one career start, the 24-year-old Love is older than many of the guys who will be catching his passes.
The only wideouts under contract who had at least 100 yards receiving last season are 2022 draft picks Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. Green Bay’s top returning tight ends are Josiah Deguara and Tyler Davis, who combined to catch 17 passes for 140 yards last season.
Green Bay added more potential playmakers for Love in the draft by selecting three receivers (Michigan State’s Jayden Reed in the second round, Virginia’s Dontayvion Wicks in the fifth and Charlotte’s Grant DuBose in the seventh) and two tight ends (Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave in the second and South Dakota State’s Tucker Kraft in the third).
“I think it’s great,” Love said. “I think we’ll get the opportunity to kind of grow together, kind of learn each other, learn what we like, learn what we want, and it’s easier with younger guys. They haven’t been around other guys that want it a certain way, want things to look like this, so it’s easier to kind of get my point across of kind of how I want things run.”
Love acknowledges he can assert himself a little more and be a little more vocal now that he’s the starter.
Green Bay’s veterans are eager to see what he can do with this long-awaited chance.
“He has everyone’s full respect,” Jones said. “We’re all going to go lay it out on the line for him.”
After Love spent the past few years waiting his turn, the Packers now may have to be patient with him. After all, Green Bay went 6-10 in 2008 when Rodgers was a first-year starter.
“I know it’s not going to be easy,” Love said. “I know there’s going to be ups and downs. And the thing I’m going to tell guys is, ‘Stick together. Stay together through the whole process, and the tighter we can get a bond together as a team, the easier it’s going to be to face these challenges.’“