Montreal Gazette

All eyes on rookie QBS, Jets' Rodgers as NFL teams kick off practices


Rookie quarterbac­ks will get much of the attention this week as most NFL teams have hit the field for non-contact practices.

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 off-season 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, US$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. “

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 Anthony Richardson of Indianapol­is this week.

Here are some of the top storylines 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 offences 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 co-ordinator 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 co-ordinator, 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.

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.

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