GREEN BAY, Wis. — At some point, everyone around the Green Bay Packers will stop saying “It’s still early” when it comes to questions about Jordan Love’s progress as the new starting quarterback.
They have not reached that point yet, and they might not be close.
Certainly not after two offseason practices, the second of which was open to the media on Tuesday.
“I think it’s still early right now,” Love said. “This is our first week practicing, starting live practicing against the defense. It’s not perfect right now. We know it’s not going to be perfect.
“I think the meter for us is continue building, make sure we’re doing the right things — in the right place on routes and route depth, timing, things like that — building that trust to take in the meeting room to the field and make sure everything’s dialed in from that aspect.”
Late into Tuesday’s OTA session, Love had completed just 3 of 12 passes during 11-on-11 periods. He finished 6 of 16 with three touchdowns — all of them in the final red zone period. It didn’t help that the starting left side of the offensive line (David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins) was absent, but Love had three passes tipped or batted down, one dropped, and one nearly picked off by linebacker De’Vondre Campbell over the middle.
Perhaps his best throw was a 10-yard touchdown pass to Christian Watson on a post route against tight coverage from cornerback Keisean Nixon. He followed that with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Romeo Doubs on an outbreaking route and finished the drill with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Samori Toure on a stop route a step into the end zone.
That trio makes up Love’s most experienced receivers, and they’re all entering just their second NFL season.
To help accelerate Love’s learning curve, Packers coach Matt LaFleur said they’re practicing with fewer scripted plays and doing more “call-it” periods.
“I think that is a challenging thing, for young players to have unscripted periods, really in every phase,” LaFleur said.
And that doesn’t just go for Love. He’s surrounded by a receiver group that doesn’t include anyone with more than one season of experience and a tight end group that includes a pair of rookies.
“We’ve got to see what everybody else around him can do as well,” LaFleur said. “And we’ve got some youth, so it’s going to be a work in progress, no doubt about it, throughout the course of OTAs and training camp and, quite frankly, throughout the course of the season.”
Including Bakhtiari and Jenkins, five other players were absent from the voluntary session. Both starting cornerbacks, Jaire Alexander and Rasul Douglas, were gone along with starting outside linebacker Preston Smith, plus backups Dallin Leavitt and Jonathan Garvin. Bakhtiari, Jenkins and Smith have been regular participants in the offseason program. No reason was given for their absence on Tuesday.
A pair of former first-round picks, cornerback Eric Stokes and outside linebacker Rashan Gary, were among those who were rehabbing off to the side. Stokes revealed Tuesday that he underwent right foot surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury in addition to having his right knee scoped. Both injuries occurred last November at Detroit, the same game in which Gary sustained a torn right ACL.