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NFL: Super Bowl XLV-Pregame Features
Feb 6, 2011; Arlington, TX, USA; Green Bay Packers safety Jarrett Bush (24) cornerback Charles Woodson (21) quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) and receiver Greg Jennings out on the field for the coin flip before Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Training Camp Roundup: Rodgers continues to defend his leadership



The last time Aaron Rodgers was under this much scrutiny, he was in his first season as the Packers starting quarterback. That was 2008, and by the time it was over, Green Bay was a 6-10 outfit, ahead of only the winless Lions in the NFC North.

The 16 seasons prior to that the job had belonged to Brett Favre, and Favre's fanatical supporters were still smarting at how he was unceremoniously run out of town. Not only was Favre a future Hall of Famer, and responsible for bringing another Lombardi Trophy to Green Bay, but he was 13-3 in his final season.

Not surprisingly, Rodgers became the focus of their ire.

Of course, the former 2005 first-round pick has led the Packers to at least 10 wins in each of the four seasons since, including a Super Bowl title of his own in Feb. 2011.

Not surprisingly, Rodgers' detractors have disappeared. At least from outside the locker room.

Last month, Greg Jennings, the former Green Bay wideout who signed with Minnesota this offseason, said that Rodgers wasn't always "accountable" as the Packers' quarterback.

On Thursday, another former teammate piped up. Donald Driver, who spent all 14 NFL seasons in Green Bay catching passes from both Favre and Rodgers, offered his thoughts what Jennings may have been referring to regarding Rodgers' leadership skills.

“We've always said that the quarterback is the one that needs to take the pressure off everyone else," Driver said Thursday during an appearance on "Mike and Mike" (via ESPN.com). "If a guy runs the wrong route, it's easy for the quarterback to say, ‘Hey, I told him to run that route' than for the guy to be like, ‘Well, I ran the wrong route.'

"Sometimes you ask Aaron to take the pressure off the guys so we won't look bad, but he didn't want to do that. He felt like if you did something bad, you do it. But I think that's the difference. You want that leadership, and I think sometimes you may not feel like you got it. You have to earn that respect at the end of the day, and I think that's what Greg was probably referring to.”

Put another way: It sounds like Rodgers wanted his wideouts to take responsibilities for their failures. (There are worse fates, by the way. Like, say, being on the receiving end of a Mark Sanchez medicine ball -- unless you're the defense, in which case there's a good chance a interception is in your future.) And you know who this reminds us of? Just about every other great quarterback to play this game. You think Tom Brady and Peyton Manning take off the kid gloves at the expense of the offense getting better?

Then again, we don't know the specifics Jennings' beef, something Driver admits.
 

“No one knows exactly what happened between those two," he said Thursday. "I didn't see anything during the season; I didn't see anything after the season. But you just never know, you never know what types of things happen between them.”

Ultimately, Driver calls Rodgers "a nice guy," adding, "I think that's what you have to respect."

"I played with him five years so I was able to experience everything he went through," Driver continued. "I saw when he first got drafted, he came in with a chip on his shoulder in that draft, and it shouldn't have been Alex Smith [taken No. 1 overall]. That's the way the guy is. I've always told Aaron, ‘Don't forget where you come from because the people are the ones who put you on that pedestal. You didn't put yourself there.' I think that's what we learning now. I'm not saying he's a bad guy, I think he's a great guy. I'm friends with Aaron.”

Actions, as they say, speak louder than words. Rodgers' record as the Packers' starter: 52-26. Over the last two seasons that includes almost 9,000 passing yards, a 68 percent completion rate, and throwing 84 touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

Greg Jennings, over that same time period, has 103 receptions for 1,315 yards and 13 touchdowns.

“People taking shots at me who aren't relevant to this team and to this locker room doesn't mean a whole lot to me," Rodgers told MMQB.com recently. "Those comments do wash over with me without a reaction, because they don't matter.”

Rodgers' teammates don't have to love everything about him, they just need to do their jobs. The winning will take care of itself.

 


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