‘Taking his time’: Patient QB Rodgers wows Jets


New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers made his highly anticipated training camp debut Thursday, embracing the huge expectations and the excitement that comes with a fresh start.

“Everything is different,” he said after his first practice. “Nineteen years in, there’s been a lot of training camps — all of them at 1265 Lombardi. Showing up at One Jets Drive was a little different.”

So is his approach.

The former Green Bay Packers star who was traded to the Jets in April recognizes he’s surrounded by new teammates who are learning an offensive system he mastered years ago. Rodgers is teaching along the way, impressing teammates and coaches with his patient leadership style.

“He’s a coach that can still play football,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said.

Rodgers, 39, admitted he hasn’t always been this nurturing, but these circumstances are far different than Green Bay. The four-time MVP recognizes the importance of trying to galvanize a potentially explosive offense.

“I feel like I’ve grown a lot over the years,” Rodgers said. “Yeah, I would say earlier in my career, I was a little more easily angered. I feel like I’m a little less triggered as I’ve gotten older.”

Rodgers pulled aside Garrett Wilson on the field for a brief conversation Thursday after the second-year receiver said he “busted a play,” noting that Rodgers calmly explained what should’ve happened on the play.

Wide receiver Allen Lazard, another former Packer, said Rodgers is “opening his arms, putting his hand out, trying to help guys, trying to teach.”

“That’s not to say he was hard to play with in Green Bay,” Lazard said. “He was a little more like, ‘You have to pick it up.’ He’s a little bit slower here in realizing there’s a lot of new players. He’s taking his time. I’m seeing it. I’m seeing how much he cares for those guys and how much he really just wants to put the icing on the cake as far as his career.”

Rodgers, who won one Super Bowl title with the Packers, has talked openly about the Jets being a Super Bowl-caliber team — and his confidence is contagious.

“I’m not going to beat around the bush, man: We want to win the Super Bowl,” said Wilson, one of the team’s young stars. “You don’t make the moves like we did unless you want to get there.”

The Jets, who own the NFL’s longest active playoff drought at 12 years, haven’t faced expectations this big in 13 years.

“It’s spectacular,” Rodgers said of the heightened attention, which includes an appearance this summer on HBO’s “Hard Knocks.”

The first practice was sloppy for the offense, a reminder there’s a lot of work to do. Rodgers expressed a sense of urgency, noting how several skill players weren’t available to practice in OTAs. The Jets still are without running back Breece Hall, tight end C.J. Uzomah and wide receiver Randall Cobb, all recovering from injuries.

“We’ve got to assimilate all those guys into what we’re doing in short order,” Rodgers said. “And we will.”

On Day 1, Rodgers spoke glowingly of the Jets’ potential — now and in the future. He hasn’t committed to play more than one year, but he certainly sounded like he wants to stick around.

“I love being around the young energy, the excitement,” he said. “There’s a great feel to this team, guys who are young and super talented on their first contracts, many of them. … When you have so many great players on rookie deals, it’s pretty exciting, knowing you can do something. You’ve got a good window. It’s not just a one-year thing where you can be competitive, which is fun.”


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