Green Bay Packers fans got their first live look at first-round quarterback Jordan Love during Saturday night’s preseason opener against the Houston Texans, but his time on the field was cut shorter than expected after an injury forced the team to be cautious.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur told reporters in the postgame that the team had originally planned for Love to play beyond the first half of Saturday’s game, but that he had “dinged” his shoulder when he was strip-sacked on his second-to-last series before halftime and decided to rest him for the sake of caution. Love returned after the sack to play the final series of the half, but he handed the ball off every time.
“I’m feeling good now. Obviously that one play, the strip-sack one, I just got my arm hit on that play and just dinged my shoulder up a little bit,” Love said following the 27-6 loss to the Texans. When asked about the extent of the injury, Love added: “I really don’t know yet. It just feels a little strainish. We’ll see the trainers (Sunday) and find out from there.”
While the strip-sack/lost fumble was a low point, Love looked good otherwise in his NFL preseason debut for the Packers. He went 12-of-17 passing for 122 yards and a touchdown and finished with a 110.4 passer rating. The touchdown drive, in particular, was impressive given that Love completed all six of his passes and converting on a pair of third downs, including one on 3rd-and-9 that ended with a 34-yard laser to tight end Jace Sternberger over the middle.
Update: ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday afternoon that the MRI on Love’s shoulder came back “clean” and that it is unlikely he will miss any playing time. The Packers will play their second preseason game against the New York Jets at home next Saturday, Aug. 21, and will kick off at 3:25 p.m. CT.
The latest Packers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Packers newsletter here!
LaFleur Assigns Blame for Strip-Sack on Love
Even before LaFleur revealed Love’s shoulder injury, the strip-sack on Love was bound to be considered one of the Packers’ worst moments of the night. The Packers had taken the lead with Love’s screen pass to rookie Kylin Hill, but two fruitless follow-up drives had allowed the Texans the time necessary to add 10 more points in their favor. That presented Love with an opportunity — from his own 25-yard line and with 53 seconds on the clock — to show how well he could manage the offense in a hurry-up situation.
Instead, Texans outside linebacker Jonathan Greenard, a 2020 third-round pick, bullied offensive tackle Yosh Nijman on the left side and applied swift pressure to Love, getting a hand on his arm that knocked the ball loose and resulted in a Houston takeaway.
“I think it was a combination to be honest with you,” LaFleur said of the strip-sack and how it came about. “Any time you take a seven-step drop in the gun, we always tell the quarterbacks if you get beyond 9 1/2 yards, you’re kind of on your own. So I think (Love) was a little bit deep in his drop, tried to hitch up, but we’ve also got to protect better on that left side. Yosh got edged and beat around the corner.”