Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love may not get the chance to see any regular-season action in the near future, but the 2020 first-round pick is doing his best to make sure his preseason debut is a memorable one.
Love, who on Saturday night played his first game since the Senior Bowl in January 2020, took just three series to find the end zone for the first time at Lambeau Field, orchestrating a nine-play, 88-yard scoring drive in which he went 6-for-6 passing and found rookie running back Kylin Hill on a screen pass that went 22 yards for a touchdown against the Houston Texans.
While his touchdown throw was the highlight of the drive, Love had a few other notable throws before linking up with Hill. He jumpstarted the drive with a 34-yard laser pass to Jace Sternberger on 3rd-and-9. He also strung together completions of eight, 10 and 15 yards — finding veteran wide receiver Devin Funchess on two of them — to set up the scoring play.
Love and the Packers trailed the Texans 13-7 at halftime, but the young quarterback finished his first half of NFL football with a solid passing line, completing 12 of 17 of his throws for 122 yards and a touchdown. He also fumbled once toward the end of the second quarterback after pressure collapsed from the left side and a defender swatted his arm as he pulled back to throw.
Love played one more drive in the second quarter, but he did not attempt a pass. Third-string quarterback Kurt Benkert relieved him to begin the third quarter.
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Sternberger’s Big Catch Helps Roster Case
The completion to Sternberger wasn’t just important because it helped Love keep the Packers’ third series alive. It was also a nice boost for Sternberger himself as the 2019 third-round pick continues his fight to preserve his place on the Packers’ 2021 active roster.
Sternberger has struggled in a variety of ways over his first two seasons with the Packers. He sustained a preseason injury in 2019 that shut him down for his entire rookie regular season despite getting a little action (and his first NFL touchdown) in the postseason. Once fully healthy for Year 2, though, Sternberger became the forgotten man behind Robert Tonyan Jr. and Marcedes Lewis and finished the year with just 12 receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown, getting left inactive for the team’s final six games in 2020.
Now, Sternberger is fighting an uphill battle to avoid falling on the cut bubble this summer. Josiah Deguara — another third-round pick — and Dominique Dafney are competing just as hard to earn their place in the tight end rotation, while Sternberger also must justify being retained for the 53-man roster with a two-game suspension to serve at the beginning of the 2021 season.
With more preseason grabs like this one, Sternberger might just have a chance.