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Four things to know about Green Bay Packers QB Jordan Love with Aaron Rodgers out due to COVID-19

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With Aaron Rodgers testing positive for COVID-19 and set to miss Sunday's pivotal game against the reigning AFC champions, all eyes now turn to Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Jordan Love.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur confirmed Wednesday that Love will be starting in place of Rodgers Sunday afternoon against the Kansas City Chiefs, in what will be his first career regular-season start.

Love, who just celebrated his 23rd birthday on Tuesday, is in his second season in the NFL, though he was inactive for every game last season. This year, however, because Rodgers was absent from the majority of the team's offseason workout program, Love practiced with the first team much more than he otherwise would have.

"Definitely a comfort level in terms of being able to spit out play calls and the whole operation," LaFleur said of Love's experience this offseason. "Now, it's going to come down to his ability to execute."

Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love warms up before a game against the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 28.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love warms up before a game against the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 28.

Here are four things you should know about Jordan Love.

Love was Green Bay's 2020 first-round pick

At a time when Rodgers was looking for the Packers to add more weapons to Green Bay's roster, the Packers selected Love with the No. 26 pick in the 2020 NFL draft. Love played at Utah State, which was the only FBS program to offer him a scholarship out of Liberty High School in Bakersfield, Calif.

In three seasons with the Aggies, Love completed 61.2% of his passes for 8,600 yards, 60 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. Love also added nine rushing touchdowns and 403 rushing yards on 170 carries. He redshirted his freshman season.

Love's passing yards totals, completions (689) and attempts (1,125) each rank second in Utah State program history and his passing touchdown mark is tied for second.

Love became only the ninth quarterback in Packers history and just the fourth since the 1970 merger to be picked in the first round.

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Love has already appeared in two games this year

In Green Bay's 38-3 blowout loss in the season opener against the New Orleans Saints, Love replaced Rodgers in garbage time. He played 15 snaps and completed five of his seven passing attempts for 68 yards. He lost a fumble, however, on a strip sack after he had driven the Packers down the field to the Saints' five-yard line.

Then, the following week, in a 35-17 victory over the Detroit Lions, Love entered the game for Green Bay's final drive, though all he did was kneel the ball to kill the clock.

Extended action in preseason

Because Love was made inactive for both of Green Bay's preseason games last year, the first time he stepped onto an NFL field as a player was in the 2021 preseason opener against the Houston Texans. Green Bay lost that game, 26-7, but Love was responsible for the team's only touchdown.

He completed 12-of-17 passes (70.6%) for 122 yards with one touchdown — on a 22-yard screen play to rookie running back Kylin Hill — and took one sack. In his only other preseason appearance, he again played reasonably well, completing 12 o 18 throws for 149 yards, but threw an interception in a 19-0 loss against the Buffalo Bills.

He missed Green Bay's second preseason game, against the New York Jets, because of a right rotator cuff strain.

Does his game translate?

Because the sample size is still so small, several unknowns remain about Love's game and how it translates to the NFL; Love only participated in 14 training camp practices this year, missing four because of the shoulder injury.

He has the size (6-foot-4 and 219 pounds) and some of the physical traits desired in the position. But regular-season action will be the true barometer for Green Bay's chances Sunday against Kansas City and Love's prospects as a reliable starting quarterback. Though Kansas City's defense ranks at or near the bottom in most major categories, Love will need to answer two particular questions on Sunday: the deep pass and third down.

According to training camp practice stats compiled by PackersNews, Love threw roughly 200 passes in 11-on-11 action and completed just over 60% of them, throwing six interceptions and eight touchdown passes.

On third-down throws, those completion percentage numbers plummeted, with Love connecting on only about 40% of his attempts in such situations. Only 14 of those 36 third-down completions in practice resulted in first downs.

During the two preseason games, Love threw 11 passes on third downs. Four of them moved the chains.

Love's longest completion in his two preseason games was a 34-yard pass to tight end Jace Sternberger against the Texans.

On the play, a third-and-9 from a clean but tight pocket, Sternberger slipped past a Houston linebacker and Love connected with him down the right seam, though the pass was just a touch behind Sternberger. Still, it was accurate and the right read and extended the drive.

But Love's only interception of the preseason came on a deep pass he shouldn't have thrown. On a play-action rollout against the Bills, Love stumbled. When the Buffalo pass rush bore down on him, he lofted a deep ball off his back foot that landed in the end zone and into the hands of Bills safety Micah Hyde.

It's reasonable to expect a dropoff when Love suits up for the Packers, especially in the deep passing game, where Rodgers is one of the league's most accurate and capable downfield throwers. Against the Chiefs, Love will need to show that when he takes his chances, they're placed in a spot where his receivers can make plays.

“The most important thing for any young quarterback, especially for ‘J,’ is the footwork,” Rodgers said of Love in August. “And when he throws a ball on time, he's a very accurate quarterback. You know if there's any type of clutter with progression, or read or whatever, for any of us, any quarterback, when you're not throwing the ball in rhythm, it becomes more difficult to be accurate and be effective.

“He just needs to trust his footwork and go out and play in rhythm.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jordan Love: Four things to know about Packers QB ahead of Chiefs game