Aaron Rodgers fared well during a blitz period at the first training camp practice on Monday morning, then was equally poised while facing a blitz of reporters afterward.
The topic — surprise! — was Brett Favre. Rodgers has been placed in the awkward position of taking over the starting throne once held by the NFL’s king. Making matters more difficult, the king wants to return to his palace.
Perhaps Rodgers is simply a great actor, but he seemed to be taking it all in stride.
“We get paid a king’s ransom to play a kid’s game,” Rodgers said. “I think you’ve got to keep that in perspective. It’s a special opportunity and privilege to play in the NFL. If you lose that perspective, I think you get a little jaded. I’m just trying to keep the perspective that I’m playing a game.”
Maybe it’s easier to keep that perspective because general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy are entrusting the offense to an untested quarterback instead of the NFL’s only three-time MVP. Talk about a vote of confidence. Or, perhaps, it’s because all of the chatter is just that: chatter.
“I don’t think much as changed,” Rodgers said. “I was declared the starter back in the offseason, and as far as I know, I’m still the guy. Obviously, there’s pressure enough to be a starter in this league, and with the circumstances that surround my situation, obviously there’s going to be a little more pressure. It’s still 11-on-11, still X’s and O’s and the offense trying to outexecute the defense.”
On the field, McCarthy said Rodgers had a “very good” first practice. He exhibited superb arm strength and mobility, and seemed comfortable during the blitz period while his rookie backups showed happy feet. For the record, his first pass was a rollout to his left and a short completion to James Jones.
Rodgers, who said he has not communicated with Favre since news of his ambition to return became public about four weeks ago, dismissed the possibility Favre’s comeback would be “awkward.”
“I don’t think so,” Rodgers said. “We got along fine. Maybe the first couple days, but I think it would be OK between us.”
Nor did he think Favre’s return would cause a rift in the locker room, saying his teammates are young but “mature.”
“They’re going to be behind whoever’s under center,” Rodgers said. “They’ve seen the hard work I’ve put in. I think I’ve earned a lot of respect from the guys from playing on the scout team, being here 100 percent the last three offseasons. You can’t help but respect that. Obviously, they want to see guys be consistent on Sundays. It’s going to take a few weeks to prove that to some of the older guys, but I look forward to that challenge.”
Rodgers said he’s not looking for anyone’s sympathy, even with the uncertainty hanging over his head for the last few weeks. He credited this ordeal, along with spending his first three seasons behind the legend, for making him the man he is today.
“I believe things happen for a reason,” Rodgers said. “When they do, you’ve just got to trust God that he’s got your best interests in mind. I don’t view this as unfair to me. It’s a challenge. Following a legend, playing behind a guy who’s going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer for three years, and then taking the reins, it’s a great opportunity. I know I’m going to be scrutinized a ton, but that’s what comes with being a quarterback in this league.”
Bill Huber writes for Packer Report. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org