Aaron Rodgers strolled over to the New York Jets’ defensive sideline, gave a few teammates pats on their backs and then got to Tony Adams.
The second-year safety had just picked off the four-time NFL MVP in team drills — and Rodgers had a couple of messages for him.
“I wanted to tell T.A., ‘Man, nice play on that interception,'” Rodgers said Wednesday. “Two, I also wanted to remind him that was a free play because they jumped offside.”
Indeed, there was a penalty called on the play. But it was another display of Rodgers’ ultra competitiveness and leadership.
“I see him walking all over the place, talking to people,” coach Robert Saleh said. “It’s funny because I think I’m learning his body language where he’s going to either talk some trash or give a good coaching point. He’s been great.”
It’s rare to see a quarterback be so actively involved in the entire operation, especially during training camp. Saleh and several Jets players have compared Rodgers to a coach on the field.
Rodgers mixes up where he sits during lunch, getting to know players up and down the roster.
“I love our guys and I think any chance they can see and feel me encouraging them is a good thing,” Rodgers said. “I really enjoy the conversations with the DBs and there have been a lot of them. … I think it’s important that we communicate, because if we’re just trying to beat each other’s [butts] in practice, that’s great competition-wise, but we’re not actually getting better.”
So, Rodgers wants to know from the cornerbacks and safeties if he or the Jets wide receivers are doing something that’s tipping off the defense about what the offense will be running on a given play.
“And I need to tell them: ‘Hey, this is hard for me. This isn’t,'” Rodgers said. “So there’s things to work on for both sides and I think that sharing of information is really important to us kind of getting together on the same page and taking that next step.”
Rodgers continues to learn the tendencies of his new teammates and vice versa. And he uses each practice as an opportunity to learn.
“If we’re just going through the motions when we’re on the field, we’re missing opportunity,” Rodgers said. “Every time we’re on the field, we should be alert for anything. And I like to test them on some stuff that maybe they haven’t thought about before. Or maybe it was installed in day one that we were here and maybe something we talked about in the spring — just that they know kind of how I operate.
“Everything is up, No. 1. But also, the best players are the smartest players. So any time we’re on that field, whether it’s a half-line walkthrough or a full 11-on-11 play, they should be playing with their brains turned on.”
Rodgers has been trying to elevate the Jets offense since was traded to New York from Green Bay in April. He has been reunited with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and spent the offseason at voluntary workouts helping him install the offense while bonding with his new teammates and city.
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Rodgers didn’t attend voluntary sessions in his last few years in Green Bay, and he reiterated that it usually “makes little to no difference” and called it an “overblown” offseason topic when actual news is hard to come by. This was a different situation, however, with everything so new.
Training camp, the 39-year-old Rodgers insisted, is where the most valuable work is done. He has talked about being patient with the offense developing during the summer.
Rodgers has looked mostly terrific in the previous practice sessions, including developing a quick rapport with second-year wide receiver Garrett Wilson. But the first-team offense struggled Wednesday during the second consecutive day of fully padded practice.
“Today was kind of a step back a little bit,” Rodgers said bluntly. “Felt a little bit tired, as a whole. Mentally, made a lot of mistakes, so we’ve got to clean some stuff up. But that’s part of training camp.”
NOTES: Rodgers confirmed a ProFootballTalk report that he agreed to restructure his contract with the Jets but declined to provide details until it’s made official. He also reiterated his plan is to likely play for the Jets beyond this season. “Anything could happen with my body or the success we have this year,” Rodgers said. “But I’m having a blast, so I really don’t see this as a one-year-and-done thing.” … Saleh said OT Mekhi Becton didn’t practice because his surgically repaired right knee “wasn’t up for it today.” The Jets are pacing Becton in his return after being sidelined all last season. … DL John Franklin-Myers has some tightness in his groin that could sideline him a few practices, but Saleh doesn’t think it’s a serious injury.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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