GREEN BAY, Wis. - Tuesday was not a good day for the Green Bay Packers' young receivers. They knew it, their coaches knew it and quarterback Aaron Rodgers knew it. Rodgers was so frustrated with what he called lack of effort and mental mistakes from the group, he publicly called them out and challenged them from his locker pulpit.
Drops, incorrect routes, procedural mistakes leading to penalties; it all added up to a dejected group. Rookie receiver Romeo Doubs, who had been having a Cinderella-like camp up to this point, slumped in his locker, a gloomy look on his face as his locker mate, Kenny Clark, delivered valuable advice.
“I had, I wouldn’t say it was a breakdown but I was in a moment where I caught myself in a low and I was just talking to Kenny, just kind of asking him what did he feel like when he was in that moment,” said Doubs. “He pretty much just told me to just stay in the fight. Understand this is a grind and don’t let days like (Tuesday) dictate what you do in camp.”
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Wednesday was a much better day for the young receivers. It started with a meeting. The receiver corps was told to be at the facility for an early-morning film session with Rodgers.
“We just kind of watched over some film and got some of his input on what he thinks we can do better and what we can work on,” said rookie receiver Samori Toure. “It just really was giving us advice. Just basically letting us know that the Green Bay receiving corps has always been held to a super-high standard, all the legends that have been through here and it was really just about us carrying that on and stepping up.”
Rodgers has infamously never gone easy on his receivers, even now, despite his purported softening in older age. With his patience wearing thin, his discontent grew and there was no gentle demeanor with the group this week. For as hard as it was to hear for guys, especially rookies, they maintain it will only help in the end.
“So many things happen in this game where you make mistakes here, make a good play, get caught up on a high there; it's an on-and-off type of thing,” said Doubs. “I think with Aaron, there’s just an expectation that no matter how bad the practice was, or how good, it's always something that forever needs to be worked on.”
While the New Orleans Saints defense arguably won the day against the Packers offense in the joint practice, the young receivers, like Doubs, Toure, Amari Rodgers and others, had a much better day. From touchdowns in red-zone drills to two-point conversions, they were there for Rodgers and backup Jordan Love. The reason was simple, according to Toure, and it started in their rare morning meeting.
“When the quarterback tells us to rise to the occasion, that’s what we’ve got to do,” Toure said.
Eric Stokes not backing down against Jarvis Landry
After beating up on the Saints' offense in their first joint practice, Eric Stokes said he thought Wednesday’s second practice might get a little chippy.
Early in the first team period, Saints receiver Jarvis Landry shoved Stokes after the whistle. Stokes wasn’t about to back down.
“We knew it could be on the radar,” Stokes said. “We just didn’t know how soon, but I could see it came from the opening snap, to where I could see what kind of tempo he wanted.
“He tried to big boy,” Stokes said, “and I wasn’t going for that. At the end of the day, I don’t care who you is, what you do, all that stuff. I’m not going to be little boy’d. I’m a grown man. At the end of the day, I’m not going to be disrespected.
“After that, I blacked out.”
Stokes shoved Landry back. Then the entire Packers defense joined the fray, and the Saints offense joined. There were a few bumpy moments between the two teams at Wednesday’s practice, but Stokes’ tussle with Landry set the tone.
Stokes said he appreciated his teammates having his back, but he wasn’t surprised.
“Oh, I know that for a fact that we’re going to ride,” Stokes said. “That’s something that we talk about on the daily. It don’t matter who it is, what type of thing that we’ve got going on. If one need it, we’re all going to ride. No matter what.”
Jordan Love has ‘gunslinger mentality’
When his first start in a pivotal preseason ended with three picks, it would have been easy for Love to be disappointed.
Even if the interceptions mostly were not his fault — one bounced off his tight end’s hands, another was wrestled away from his receiver — Love knows those plays fall on the quarterback’s stat line. Rodgers said he “felt really bad” those plays were reflected on Love, given the quarterback played better than the box score indicated.
Love said he doesn’t let interceptions bother him.
“I think it is hard,” Love said. “You give up three picks in a game, and it’s easy to sit there and in the back of your head, ‘I don’t want to throw another pick.’ You start getting timid with the ball. That’s one of those things I just sit there and think about, just lock back in, go back to square one at the beginning of the game, and go out and let it rip. Whatever happens, happens. You can’t control what happens, when tips happen, bad throws happen, things happen in the game. You’ve just got to keep playing. That’s what I try to do, is try to tell myself just keep going. Next play.”
Even before the Packers drafted him, Love learned the importance of not letting an interception derail the rest of his game. Love threw 17 picks in his final season at Utah State. He still made enough plays to be drafted in the first round.
“It’s one of those things you’ve just got to keep going,” Love said. “Every game is a new game. You’ve kind of just got to have a clean slate, forget about those things. The more you think about it, the more negative thoughts are going to be in your head, the more you’re going to try not to force the ball down the field and not throw those type of throws. I have a gunslinger mentality. I’m just going to keep playing, keep letting it rip, and try to be there for my teammates. You’ve just got to have a short-term memory.”
Injured safety Dallin Leavitt determined to return
Safety Dallin Leavitt, who injured his left shoulder in a nasty collision against the San Francisco 49ers on Friday night, said he is not out for the season.
Leavitt declined to say what the injury was or what the timetable would be, but he said he won’t need surgery and now has a goal for when he’ll be back.
If the Packers put him on injured reserve prior to the cut to 53, they can’t bring him back this season. However, if they include him in the 53-man roster, they can put him on injured reserve and designate him to return at some point during the regular season.
Leavitt, who was signed after being released by the Las Vegas Raiders, was working as a starter on all four core special teams units.
This article originally appeared on Packers News: Green Bay Packers' WRs bounce back after Aaron Rodgers' criticism