Aaron Rodgers Calls Out ‘Repeat Mistakes’ With Young WRs

Rodgers on Drops

Getty Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers watches action from the sideline during the second half of a game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on October 28, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona.

Aaron Rodgers has known the Green Bay Packers offense was going to function differently in 2022 without All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams and a deep-threat Marquez Valdes-Scantling out there catching his passes. Right now, though, he just wants his young receiving corps to correct their “repeat mistakes.”

Rodgers was disappointed with the Packers’ overall execution of their offense in August 16’s joint training-camp practice against the New Orleans Saints, telling members of the media afterward that he thought the first-team unit had “a lot of mental mistakes” despite having the right type of energy to be successful.

To some degree, Rodgers dismissed the concerns as being part of camp and something that the Packers can address and hopefully fix before the start of the regular season, but he also lamented that some of the players having issues continue to have them.

“It’s, unfortunately, some of the same guys,” Rodgers said after Tuesday’s practice. “Repeat mistakes are a problem, so we’ve just got to clean those up a little bit. The young guys, especially young receivers, we’ve got to be way more consistent. A lot of drops, a lot of bad route decisions, running the wrong route, so we’ve got to get better in that area, but I felt like the line for the most part held up pretty good, which was good to see.”

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Packers WRs With Drops ‘Won’t Be Out There’

Rodgers understands that a new crop of receivers — which includes three drafted rookies — is going to require patience as they ramp up for the 2022 season, and he has been fairly complimentary of the good things he has seen from up-and-comers such as fourth-round pick Romeo Doubs. To crack the veteran rotation, though, he is going to need to see some more consistency from the whole lot of them.

Doubs has turned some heads during his first few weeks of camp with the Packers, taking advantage of second-round rookie Christian Watson’s time on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and using the extra reps afforded to him to build trust with the coaching staff and his quarterback. At the same time, Doubs had two drops in the Packers’ preseason opener against the 49ers, including a bad one that turned into an interception for Jordan Love.

He also dropped another bad one in Tuesday’s practice, one that Rodgers called his “best throw of the day.”

Drops were an issue for Doubs during his four seasons at Nevada. He struggled to secure catches in traffic and was inconsistent overall with his hands despite his strong production typically outweighing the issues. He has flashed more good than bad with the Packers so far and is in no danger of losing his roster spot as a fourth-round pick, but his problem with drops could keep him on the bench if he’s not careful.

“He just won’t be out there,” Rodgers said generally about receivers that have been dropping his passes in practice. “Keep dropping the ball, you’re not going to be out there. It’s going to be the most reliable guys that are out there. The preparation and the job responsibility is most important. There’s gonna be physical mistakes that we’ve talked about, but if you’re going out there and dropping the ball and somebody else behind you is in the right spot all the time and catching the ball, that guy’s gonna play.”

Watkins Has ‘Best Practice’ Against Saints

Rodgers wasn’t exclusively critical of his receivers following Tuesday’s practice against the Saints. One good thing that came out of it was Watkins, who missed some time early in camp with an injury, had what Rodgers classified as his “best practice” yet.

“Sammy, I thought, had his best practice,” Rodgers said. “He was making plays. He’s a gamer, one of those veterans that we’ve had here over the years where there are some times where you’re not seeing a bunch of flash plays, and then what happens? We bring another team out here and he makes three or four plays out there and has his best practice at camp, so really happy for Sammy.”

The Packers could lean on Watkins in the upcoming season, especially if the younger group remains inconsistent with their drops. Lazard is the Packers’ WR1 until someone else pries it away from him and Cobb will get his usual work in the slot, but Watkins’ speed and experience at the other outside spot could stress NFL defenses if he can stay healthy. Watkins is the second-most productive receiver on the Packers’ roster with 348 career receptions for 5,059 yards and 34 touchdowns, second only to Cobb.

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