NFL

Rodgers tips Packers pair to make 'the jump' as coach LaFleur backs QB

By Sports Desk September 15, 2022

Aaron Rodgers believes a little tough love will help Packers rookie wide receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs make "the jump" into fully-fledged NFL performers.

The Green Bay quarterback saw Watson's early drop of a would-be touchdown prove costly against the Minnesota Vikings as the Packers began with a 23-7 loss on Sunday.

That Week 1 blow could prove a bellwether of the Packers' season, following the trade of All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders.

Rodgers appeared frustrated when second-round pick Watson beat veteran Patrick Peterson but let a perfectly placed deep ball slip through his fingers, scuppering the prospect of bringing the Packers back to level terms at 7-7 early in the game.

Speaking after the game, Rodgers said that Watson knew there would be "growing pains" as he looks to become established at the top level.

With time to think since the game, Rodgers said on Wednesday the Packers have "got to be patient", 

"The most important thing we're going to be harping on is the preparation and the fundamentals and the little things," he said.

"The jump happens when you don't become a robot anymore. You understand the 'why' and the 'what' – why are we doing what we're doing and what are we trying to accomplish? And it takes a while for anybody."

Rodgers does not believe there should be too much leeway, though, and says any player should be given it straight, in an appropriate way, if they fail to come up with the goods.

"There's going to be mistakes. So, hold them accountable and prepare and communicate as well as we can, but it's not throwing to older guys out there," Rodgers said.

"It's young guys who are very talented, who are going to make some great plays by not actually knowing what they're doing sometimes, and there's going to be times when they don't make the right reaction and just having patience with that because, I think, by the end of the year, they'll have it figured out."

That bodes well for the future, if Rodgers' vision plays out, and Packers coach Matt LaFleur is trusting his QB to nurture the relationship with 23-year-old Watson and 22-year-old Doubs.

The Packers tackle the Chicago Bears in Week 2.

LaFleur said Rodgers would likely want to try again with some of the plays he attempted on Sunday.

"That happens every game, right?" said the Packers coach. "But I think he's done a great job of demanding the urgency from those young guys, yet putting an arm around them as well at the same time."

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