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Checking in with Packers QB Jordan Love, potential Week 1 Saints opponent

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Surely the Aaron Rodgers holdout will end and we’ll get the high-profile Week 1 matchup everyone hoped for when the New Orleans Saints schedule was announced. He’ll settle his differences with the Green Bay Packers’ front office and be ready to duel Jameis Winston (or Taysom Hill) in one of the 2021 season’s highest-flying matchups. But what if he doesn’t?

A sustained absence for Rodgers would mean his backup Jordan Love gets the starting nod. And that raises all sorts of new questions. So let’s take a look at the reporting out of Packers minicamps earlier this summer to see how he’s progressing.

Love remains one of the most perplexing draft picks in recent memory. The Packers shocked everyone by trading up to get him, leapfrogging three teams without an evident need at quarterback or interest in drafting him (the Seahawks, Titans, and Ravens, for the folks keeping score at home). And then he was a healthy scratch throughout his rookie season while Tim Boyle backed up Rodgers. There’s been widespread skepticism surrounding the former Utah State breakout.

While we shouldn’t look too deeply into passes thrown against empty air, Love appears to have fired up everyone in Green Bay earlier this summer. Packers coach Matt LaFleur spoke glowingly about the first impression Love made at organized team activities, saying, ““I think you can tell he put some work in this offseason on his own. The ball is really jumping out of his hand well right now. … We’re excited about some of the progress we’ve seen with him, but certainly there’s a long way to go there.”

A few weeks later, Love followed up “a rough first day of minicamp,” per Packers Wire’s Zach Kruse, with a series of big plays in a two-minute drill the next day, improving on his accuracy and hitting multiple different receivers for long gains. When asked about his readiness to start Week 1 against the Saints, Love responded that he’s 100% prepared for the opportunity, adding: “I was drafted here to play quarterback, so I’ll definitely be ready Week 1.”

So he’s not lacking for confidence. And Love won’t be lacking for prep time, either; LaFleur outlined the importance that his quarterback get every practice rep possible to ease his learning curve. The longer Rodgers stays away from the team, the more time Love will get to spend with his teammates on the first-string offense.

If he does end up starting Week 1’s matchup in New Orleans, the Saints won’t exactly be catching someone by their blind side. That’s disquieting considering their issues defending inexperienced quarterbacks in the past, ranging from Jalen Hurts and Justin Herbert last year to Robert Griffin III’s 2012 debut. And we haven’t even gotten into the Saints defense’s notorious slow starts in recent seasons. Here’s hoping 2021 starts off better regardless of who the Packers trot out under center.

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