All eyes on rookie QBs and Aaron Rodgers as NFL teams kick off practices
Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young throws during the NFL football team’s OTA practices in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, May 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
Rookie quarterbacks will get much of the attention this week when most NFL teams hit the field for non-contact practices.
Twenty teams kicked off their voluntary organized team activities on Monday and 10 more will do so on Tuesday. Only the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles and the AFC runner-up Cincinnati Bengals aren’t holding workouts this week.
Teams are allowed, per the collective bargaining agreement, to hold 10 days of practices without pads and no live contact over a four-week span. They can run 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.
Aaron Rodgers, who didn’t participate in some of these offseason workouts the past few seasons with the Green Bay Packers, was on the field with his new team. Wearing a green New York Jets helmet, black shorts and a red, No. 8 practice jersey, Rodgers pump-faked on one play and scrambled for a TD, holding both his hands in the air to signal a score.
Lamar Jackson, who signed a five-year, $260 million contract extension earlier this month, was absent from Baltimore’s session on Monday.
Bryce Young, the No. 1 overall pick, impressed coach Frank Reich at Carolina’s first practice.
“Just complete command, control, poise,” Reich said after the Panthers held Monday’s workout. “You could tell the way he was seeing it, the way he was working through progressions, accuracy in the throw, ball placement of the throw, it was all very good.”
Though it’s early and there’s a long way to go before training camp, all eyes will be on Young, Houston’s C.J. Stroud and Indianapolis’ Anthony Richardson this week.
Here are some of the top story lines to follow:
ROOKIE QBS: Young, Stroud and Richardson, who were among the top picks in the draft, are getting acclimated to life in the NFL while also learning new offenses and shouldering the burden of high expectations.
AARON RODGERS: Rodgers flashed a big smile as he ran into the end zone on his TD scramble in a video that had Jets fans buzzing on Monday. His attendance is a big deal for a franchise desperate for a turnaround. Rodgers is already familiar with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s system from their time together in Green Bay. But the four-time NFL MVP has been spending time at the Jets’ facility since his arrival and it should help him build chemistry with his new teammates.
LAMAR JACKSON: Todd Monken is Baltimore’s new offensive coordinator, so the Ravens would prefer the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback shows up to learn the nuances and work with his teammates. However, new Ravens wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., fellow wideout Rashod Bateman, tight end Mark Andrews and running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards weren’t in attendance on the first day, either. Plenty of starting players across the league prefer to work out on their own instead of attending voluntary practices and many often skip a few days until mandatory minicamp.
SEAN PAYTON: The former Super Bowl-winning head coach with New Orleans returned to the NFL after a one-year absence and is trying to turn the Denver Broncos into a winner again. It starts with getting Russell Wilson to play more like the potential Hall of Famer he was in his first 10 seasons in Seattle.
PACKERS NEW ERA: The Green Bay Packers will start a season without Rodgers or Brett Favre for the first time since 1991. Jordan Love will be under scrutiny as the team transitions to the fourth-year QB. He has the youngest group of wide receivers and tight ends in the NFL.