LaFleur ‘pleased’ with QB Love, despite 3 INTs

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Two weeks into training camp, Jordan Love was a more accurate, more efficient quarterback, drawing praise from Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur.

LaFleur won’t let Love’s three-interception performance in the preseason opener change that. He largely relieved his backup quarterback of turnover responsibility in Friday’s preseason opener, a 28-21 loss at the San Francisco 49ers.

“I think you can take two of them right off him,” LaFleur said. “The third down, again, we had two blown routes because the ball really shouldn’t have gone there on that play, but he had nowhere else to go with the football and he forced it in there and the quarterback made a good play .

“We’ve just got to clean up everything around him. We say it all the time about quarterbacks, they’re going to get too much credit when we do well and they’re going to get a lot of the blame when we’re on. ‘t, and that’s just the reality of playing that position in this league. But I was pleased with Jordan’s performance.”

Love, the third-year backup to Aaron Rodgers, finished the first half 13-of-24 for 176 yards with two touchdown passes to go along with his three picks. He also rushed four times for 24 yards.

Love’s two touchdown passes were both 33-yarders — one in the first quarter to rookie receiver Romeo Doubs, who has been one of the stars of Packers training camp, and the other a well-placed back-shoulder throw to rookie receiver Danny Davis in the second quarter.

Here’s why LaFleur didn’t put all the wiretaps on Love:

  • On the first down, tight end Tyler Davis let a pass bounce off his hands. Love threw it quickly and into double coverage, but Davis simply dropped it and linebacker Marcelino McCrary-Ball plucked it out of the air.

  • On the second, Doubs allowed cornerback Samuel Womack to wrestle the ball away from him near the sideline. Had Love placed the ball further to the outside, Womack might not have been able to pull it away from Doubs.

  • While the third down appeared to be a forced throw to an unopened Amari Rodgers over the middle that Womack picked off, LaFleur did not say if Rodgers was one of the receivers who ran the wrong route.

“Amari kind of had a two-way go on the read and they played two-high,” Love said. “It’s one of those things, we didn’t really expect them to play a lot of two-high. And you know, just got the wrong read on that one, and yeah, the route he ran, the ball was still behind him , able to for the defender to undercut it. It’s something you don’t want to happen, but it’s something you have to learn from.”

Prior to Friday’s opener, Love was off to the best start of his career with more throws, more touchdowns and fewer turnovers.

It’s an important preseason for Love, whose rookie preseason was wiped out by COVID-19. I’ve only played in two of last year’s three preseason games and I’ve missed one with a shoulder injury. Love lost in his only career regular season start last season in Kansas City while Aaron Rodgers was out with COVID-19.

The Packers must decide next spring whether to pick up the fifth-year option on Love’s rookie contract. A strong preseason can make that decision easier. It could also make Love easier to trade, something the Packers might consider if they think Aaron Rodgers will play for several more years.

The Packers trailed 20-14 when Love left the game at halftime. Third-string quarterback Danny Etling finished the game. LaFleur held out most starters, except for what has been the No. 1 offensive tackle in camp. He said earlier this week that Aaron Rodgers will not play in the first two preseason games, which include next Friday’s game against the New Orleans Saints. LaFleur will make a decision on the preseason finale after the Saints game.

Doubs finished with three catches for 45 yards and the touchdown. He was targeted seven times and got two drops.

“To be able to get that touchdown to Romeo was huge,” Love said. “And then obviously just the turnovers. The ball wasn’t bouncing our way tonight. A couple of bad plays. The last one to Amari just missed it inside on a ball. But other than that, I think we moved the ball great. Got into some scoring positions .”

The Packers announced shoulder injuries to outside linebacker Tipa Galeai and safety Dallin Leavitt.

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