Green Bay Packers rookie Jordan Love is on track to one day succeed Aaron Rodgers as the franchise’s starting quarterback, but the first-rounder might not even be the first one to back up him when the 2020 season opens next month.
Love has been progressing well through his first NFL training camp with some flashes of the athletic ability that played into the Packers trading up and drafting him at No. 26 overall in April’s draft. The former Utah State quarterback missed out on a normal offseason with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing teams to go virtual, but he spent the summer diving into the Packers’ playbook and attuning his game to the NFL level.
The Packers, however, are still high on Tim Boyle after he won the backup spot during last year’s training camp and are expecting to have all three quarterbacks on their opening-day roster in 2020 — with suggestions that Boyle remains favored over Love for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.
The Tim Boyle Show continues on Day 2. Fires one over the middle to Darrius Shepherd for a lengthy completion.
— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) August 17, 2020
“I think Tim has done an outstanding job,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst told reporters after Thursday’s practice. “He’s had a really, really good start. I think we expected that. Tim’s got a lot of talent. Again, his future is really bright here and we’re excited about him. He’s taken every opportunity he’s had so far this year and really grown from where he was last year, and I thought last year was pretty good. He’s proven himself day in and day out. … Again, with Aaron back there, you hope you never have to go that route, but if we did I feel very confident we can win games with Tim Boyle.”
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Backup Job Could Be Boyle’s to Lose
Let’s be clear: Tim Boyle will not be outlasting Jordan Love to assume the throne as Packers starting quarterback. No team would throw away the investment of a first-round quarterback for an undrafted backup, even if the latter could play to the caliber of an NFL starter. And yet, Boyle as the short-term backup makes plenty of sense.
The coronavirus pandemic has completely changed the landscape of the league for NFL rookies in 2020, from the NFL draft and offseason each being reduced to a virtual-only setting to the elimination of preseason games as an abridged lead-up to the new season. For the Packers, that means prior experience in the system — especially at a position as important as quarterback — becomes more valuable than ever.
Boyle wasn’t asked to contribute meaningful reps for the Packers during last year’s regular season, but his 2019 preseason numbers were some of the best in the league with him going 34-of-57 passing with 356 yards and six touchdowns over four games.
“I think going out there and making sure I’m putting us in the right play, doing it with some good tempo, and delivering the ball where it needs to go is important,” Boyle said Monday’s second training camp practice. “That’s what they want to see from me. Yeah, it’s going to be said missing out on some preseason just from a fun standpoint and going out and playing with your teammates, but I think we’ll get the work we need in training camp.”
Love Impresses in Two-Minute Drill
Love may have an initial disadvantage against Boyle in a battle for the backup spot, but that hasn’t kept the first-round rookie from stringing together some impressive reps in the first five practices of training camp. One series in particular — a two-minute drill in which Love took control of the offense — showcased his ability to respond to adversity on the fly.
Here’s how Bill Huber of Sports Illustrated described Love’s “first win” as one of several reporters in attendance for Thursday’s practice:
Starting at the 25-yard line with 1:03 on the clock and needing a field goal to “win,” Love committed the cardinal sin of taking a sack on the first play. Then, after a completion to receiver Reggie Begelton, he let a few seconds melt away before he called the team’s one and only timeout.
After that inauspicious start, Love got rolling. He hit tight end Jace Sternberger in stride for a first down. Then, on third-and-10, Love stepped up in the pocket and delivered a strike over the middle to receiver Darrius Shepherd at the defense’s 45. Love hurried the offense to the line and clocked the ball with 10 seconds left. Needing one more big play, he delivered at the sideline to Shepherd at the 30. Mason Crosby booted a 48-yard field goal for the win.