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GREEN BAY — As far as Matt LaFleur is concerned, nothing has changed with Aaron Rodgers. And that includes how the Green Bay Packers coach — and the organization as a whole, he says — feels about the reigning NFL MVP.

“I’ve got nothing new to update. We still obviously feel the same way. We want him back in the worst way,” LaFleur said Friday afternoon following the first practice of the team’s two-day rookie minicamp with 28 players — the team’s nine draft picks, seven undrafted rookie free agents, three tryout players and nine players previously on the roster.

“I know (Rodgers) knows that, and we’ll continue to work at it each and every day.”

The Packers have publicly maintained — since Rodgers’ displeasure with the team and general manager Brian Gutekunst came to light on the first day of the NFL draft last month — they will not trade the three-time NFL MVP. Gutekunst said during the draft the team had refused to even listen to offers when teams called to inquire about Rodgers’ availability.

The team’s on-field organized team activity practices are set to begin next week, and Rodgers is not expected to attend. Those sessions have always been technically voluntary but strongly encouraged, except last year, when they were pushed into the virtual realm by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A significant number of veterans are expected to skip OTAs across the league as the NFL Players Association argues such extensive in-person offseason programs are unnecessary, as proven by last year’s absences having a minimal impact on quality of play. The Packers have historically enticed their veteran players to attend the offseason program by offering some of the highest offseason workout bonuses in the league.

LaFleur said he has had the Packers’ position coaches survey their players during Zoom meetings the past few weeks to get a gauge on what in-person attendance will look like.

“We have a sense for it,” LaFleur said. “We’ve kind of polled each position group and wanted to know who’s going to show up, because we just want to have an efficient schedule for the guys that are here. Obviously as a coach, you’d love everybody to be here. However, it is voluntary, so you can’t force that upon anybody.”

The team’s mandatory minicamp is slated for June 8, 9 and 10, and that is the only offseason gathering Rodgers would be required to attend. He would be subject to fines if he was a no-show.

“I’m not going to make any assumptions about anything at this point,” LaFleur said. “We’re just going to take it day-by-day.”

Without Rodgers or 2020 first-round draft pick Jordan Love, who is ineligible for the rookie camp despite being inactive for all 18 of the team’s regular- and post-season games as a rookie last year, the Packers’ two quarterbacks at Friday’s practice were Chad Kelly and Kurt Benkert, who took part on a tryout basis. Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones’ twin brother Alvin, a linebacker, also participated on a tryout basis.

The other quarterback now on the roster is veteran Blake Bortles, whose signing was announced Thursday. Bortles, 29, started 76 games (including playoffs) with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was on the Jaguars’ staff, and spent parts of the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, who run a similar offensive scheme to what LaFleur runs in Green Bay.

“That had a big part in signing him,” LaFleur said. “Anytime you come into an offseason — we only have two quarterback on our roster — you’re always going to have three if not four guys in an offseason program and in training camp,” LaFleur said. “Blake’s familiarity with Hackett, with being in the Rams’ offense with a lot of carryover in terminology, and just his overall experience in this league … I mean, this is a guy that started a lot of games and has had a lot of success. Shoot, he led his team to the (2017) AFC Championship Game and they were close to knocking off the Patriots in New England. He’s got a lot of experience and that’s something that you can never take for granted.”


Photos: Packers’ 2020 season in pictures

Photos: Packers' 2020 season in pictures

Check out photo galleries from every game of 2020 through the end of the regular season and the playoffs.

This article originally ran on madison.com.

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