With no preseason games last year due to COVID-19, Jordan Love was unable to get some live NFL reps during his rookie training camp. And after not attempting a single pass during the 2020 regular season, Love finally made his long-awaited debut Saturday against the Texans. The former first-round pick did not disappoint, as Love went 12 of 17 for 112 yards that included a 22-yard touchdown pass to Kylin Hill.
Love and the Packers received good news after the game, as the MRI on his right shoulder came back clean after he took a second quarter sack, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The sack occurred during Love's final play of the night. The Packers were hoping to give Love at least three quarters of work but took him out after the sack as a precaution.
"He did a nice job," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said of Love's performance, via NFL Network's Nick Shook. "What we were really looking for is just going out there with command, making sure our operation was clean, making sure that he was decisive and on point with his decision-making. I thought by and large it was pretty solid.
"If there's one thing to just encourage him to continue to do is 'Hey man, you've got to let that sucker rip. When you see it, trust what you see. Don't worry about being perfect. Don't worry about throwing a perfect, on-target pass. Usually when you do that, you're not as accurate. You've got to let the ball go.' But by and large, I think he did a really nice job."
Love and the Packers' endured a slow start, punting on each of their first two possessions. Green Bay's offense was awoken after Love found Jace Sternberger open down the middle of the field for a 34-yard gain on third-and-9. Love then hit Devin Funchess and Malik Taylor for 8 and 10 yards before scoring a screen pass to Hill, who found space on the right side of the Texans' defense for the Packers' first (and only) score.
"It was a slow start," Love said of his debut, via the Packers' team website. "But then I think we started getting into a little bit of a groove on offense.
"Being able to convert that first third down helped a lot. We got that momentum going and got rolling from there."
While Love probably has some throws he wishes he had back, a lack of a running game was a big reason why the Packers had just one score during Love's five full possessions. Green Bay rushed for -1 yards on six carries with Love in the game. Green Bay -- which did not dress starting running back Aaron Jones -- finished with just 49 yards on 21 carries, compared to the Texans' 170 yards on 37 carries.
"They won the battle in the trenches," LaFleur said of the Texans' defense. "Basically Houston played two coverages all night; they played Tampa 2 and they played Cover 2. Obviously, if they're going to play a lot of man, we'd like to throw the ball, and we were pretty effective on that [scoring] drive. If they're going to play Cover 2, you've got to be able to run it. We tried running the ball a little bit ... and we just weren't very effective. ... They flat won the battle up front."
Love, who will likely get significant playing time in Green Bay's second preseason game against the visiting Jets next Sunday, recently admitted that he had developed a starter's mentality this offseason amidst the uncertainty with Aaron Rodgers. And while he will spend at least one more season as Rodgers' backup, Love recently said that he is hoping to make the most of his time with the three-time league MVP.
"Me and Aaron have a good relationship," Love said. "Obviously, it's kind of like the Master and the Padawan kind of thing. Just trying to learn as much as I can from him.
"Anytime there's something in the quarterback room that Aaron feels I need to continue to improve on or do a better job, he's right there to let me know."