Two years ago, there was no question about Aaron Rodgers’ feelings on the Green Bay Packers’ joint practices with the Houston Texans: he hated them.
“I’m glad it’s over so we can get on to the rest of training camp,” he said following two days working against Texans players.
This year, however, Rodgers has changed his tune following the team’s first day practicing against the New York Jets. His difference of opinion is almost certainly due to the close connection between his head coach, Matt LaFleur, and the Jets’ head man, Robert Saleh.
Saleh and LaFleur go way back to their early days in coaching as graduate assistants in college. The two are close friends, and since their teams don’t play each other this year during the regular season, it was a natural fit to get their teams together before a preseason game to get some practice work in.
It also doesn’t hurt that LaFleur’s brother, Mike, is the Jets’ offensive coordinator, further adding to the ties between the two teams.
All of those connections mean that there is a mutual respect already established between the people in charge of the two teams, and therefore there should be no funny business on the practice field — a good first step in light of Texans cornerback Lonnie Johnson giving Jace Sternberger a concussion two years ago.
‘We got some good work in today’: How Jets helped change Packers QB Aaron Rodgers’ mind on joint practices – The Athletic (subscription)
The first of two joint practices against the Jets was a positive for Rodgers, who was outspoken about not liking the experience two years ago with the Houston Texans.
Five things learned at Packers training camp – Aug. 18 | Packers.com
One reason Rodgers was pleased with the practice was that the Jets actually ran some real defensive schemes rather than just vanilla playcalls on that side of the football. Surely, the close ties between Matt LaFleur and Jets head coach Robert Saleh contributed to the two teams’ good work together.
Matt LaFleur’s bond with Robert Saleh lessens risk of Packers-Jets cheap shots | Packersnews.com (subscription)
Those ties are described in more detail here, but their relationship goes back to their time together at Central Michigan, after which LaFleur was the best man in Saleh’s wedding.
Aaron Rodgers expecting Josh Myers to bounce back | Packers Wire
Myers had a rough day of practice on Wednesday, according to Rodgers, as he is not yet processing defensive alignments as fast as his quarterback. But the QB has every faith in his rookie center to return to form today and moving forward.
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