But this is Linsley’s sixth season as the Green Bay Packers‘ center and even what his quarterback did in Sunday’s 42-24 dismantling of the Oakland Raiders seemed like old hat.
Five touchdown passes, one touchdown run and 429 yards weren’t completely meh to Linsley, but …
“We see it every day in practice,” he said. “This dude’s ridiculously talented. He’s a great dude. He’s a perfectionist. All the stuff you hear, it’s great to see it come to fruition and have him have this unbelievable game. We’re all happy for him. But honestly, it’s nothing new to us. It seems like another day at the office. It was just, Aaron is on today.”
About the only thing that truly amazed Linsley was the passer rating, something coach Matt LaFleur made mention of in front of the entire team in the postgame locker room.
This is David Bakhtiari‘s seventh season as the Packers’ left tackle and as he leaned against a wall in a victorious locker room at Lambeau Field, the matter-of-factness in his tone was evident.
“Aaron is Aaron out there every week, but I mean, you talk about lights out, yeah,” Bakhtiari said. “Our coach said he had a perfect passer rating for the first time in his career. I told him, ‘We blocked up well, but I felt like if we gave you time you were going to light ’em up, or if we let every single guy come at your face you were going to light ’em up regardless.’ That’s kind of how on he was today.”
It’s not that guys like Bakhtiari and Linsley weren’t impressed, but they have been around long enough to see vintage Rodgers more than once.
But what was it like for those who had never seen it firsthand? Here’s what it looked like through their eyes:
Right guard Billy Turner
Turner spent his first five NFL seasons with the Dolphins and Broncos. His quarterbacks were Ryan Tannehill, Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler and Case Keenum. Turner said he had never before seen anything like what Rodgers did on Sunday.
“Only on film. Never been on a team with a quarterback of that caliber who has done things that special with the football.”
Who was that quarterback on the film?
“Him. He’s one of the greatest of all time, if not the best. There’s a lot of guys who are trying to emulate their game after the things he does, and to be able to continue to elevate his game again and again is special.
“When you go into a huddle with a quarterback that’s confident with the football in his hands it’s completely different. I’ve been in a lot of situations where I’ve been in the huddle where guys have come in and lack confidence and as a player, it’s almost like you try to elevate your game and everyone around because it’s almost like you’ve got to pick up the slack. But it’s completely different with him.”
Aaron Rodgers felt an offensive explosion was coming with how comfortable he’s starting to feel in new head coach Matt LaFleur’s offense.
Left guard Elgton Jenkins
A second-round pick from Mississippi State, the rookie took over as the full-time starter after Lane Taylor was injured in Week 3.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a quarterback throw for 400 and five touchdowns like easy. Just being in the huddle, it’s a blessing to have a quarterback of such high caliber.
“He put the ball on the money. My job is to protect and I see that now if you protect and give him time, he’s going to make things happen.”
Rodgers was pressured on just five of his 34 dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That’s his second-lowest pressure rate (14.7 percent) in the past three seasons. He went 15 of 18 with three touchdowns when given at least 2.5 seconds to throw. In his first six games this season, he completed 55 percent of such passes.
“Never [seen anything like what Rodgers did Sunday]. That’s some legendary stuff, man.”
“Playing against him three out of my four years and watching, and then actually being on a team with him and seeing him in practice and seeing how he prepares and goes out there in practices, it’s like, man, I always used to be amazed watching him when I was on the field. If he threw the ball, seeing what kind of throw he was going to complete. Watching him on the field. Now, it’s even more exciting to watch him at practice and see him come out here and do it in a game. Everybody is excited, and I’m like, ‘I’ve seen that before.'”
Receiver Jake Kumerow
The former Division III star at Wisconsin-Whitewater caught two passes for 54 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown on Sunday against the Raiders. He’s in his second season with the Packers but barely played last year.
“When we’re out there playing, I don’t even realize how many touchdowns he threw or how many yards he’s throwing for. I had no idea until we got back in the locker room.
Week 7 of the NFL witnessed Aaron Rodgers’ six-touchdown day, Lamar Jackson on the loose in Seattle and a muddy mess between the 49ers and Redskins.
“In college, we had some good games. My quarterback, Matt Behrendt, threw for six touchdowns in the first half and I had three of them, and then we both got taken out so we didn’t get to finish the game. So we were on a roll to start that one. Other than that, [no]. And that’s a little bit different playing where we were at. It was against [Wisconsin-] Stout. Are they a blue team? Yeah, [it was against] Stout.”
Backup quarterback Tim Boyle
Boyle spent last season as the No. 3 quarterback and is Rodgers’ backup this year. He spent his first three college seasons at Connecticut, where he threw one touchdown and 13 interceptions. In his final season, at Eastern Kentucky, he threw 11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
“It is incredible, absolutely incredible, what he did today. … The fact that Aaron played pretty much a perfect game, it really is unbelievable. He stands in there, makes all these throws and gets hit, and he keeps plugging along. Honestly, it’s pretty awe-inspiring to watch on the sideline, just watching how he operates and how smooth he is. His leadership out there is obviously a good example for me, but today was one of those days where everything was clicking and it’s well-deserved. Obviously, we’ve been taking some criticism for the offense and leaning on the defense a little bit, but today was one of those days where it feels good to go out there and finally put up 42.”
Cowboys hoping to reach deal with Dak Prescott, avoid franchise tag
INDIANAPOLIS — Time might be running out, but Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones remains confident a long-term deal can be worked out with quarterback Dak Prescott before the organization will need to use the franchise tag.
Jones said there are no talks scheduled with Prescott’s agent, Todd France, but the team intends to meet with him at some point this week during the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.
Jones said there is no scenario in which the Cowboys would move on from Prescott in 2020.
“I mean, Dak’s our quarterback. He’s our quarterback for the future and we have nothing but the greatest respect for him,” Jones said. “He’s a competitor. He’s won a lot of football games for us. Obviously, he, like us, we all want to take that next step and get into a championship game and get to the big game and ultimately win a championship. So there’s no thoughts like that.”
Jones acknowledged the sides have not spoken since September when the Cowboys thought they were closing in on an agreement that would have made Prescott among the top-five paid quarterbacks in the NFL.
“It just kind of stopped. We kind of left it where it was,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t say there was anything acrimonious. They felt they were done where they were. We felt like we were kind of where we were and we never really got going again.”
Despite the inactivity, Jones believes a deal can be consummated before March 12, the final date in which the club can use the franchise tag. That is two days later than the original deadline because of the ongoing discussions with the NFL and the NFL Players Association on a new collective bargaining agreement. Jones said there are “a lot of moving parts,” that go into negotiations when it is the final year of the CBA. With a new CBA, the Cowboys would lose the chance to use the franchise and transition tags but it would ease up some of the issues in getting a long-term deal completed.
Jones would not get into whether the Cowboys would use the nonexclusive franchise tag, which would cost $27 million but allow Prescott to shop the market, or exclusive tag, which would cost $33 million and prevent teams from signing him.
“I just don’t think we’ve had our hands around what the next steps are,” Jones said. “Obviously we didn’t end up getting it done because they were pretty entrenched with their thoughts and we were pretty entrenched with our thoughts. I think really that’s the facts of the world we work. Certainly we’ve done a lot of thinking about it and looking at it and we’ll see where it ends up.”
Prescott is not the only high-profile free agent the Cowboys want to re-sign. Wide receiver Amari Cooper, cornerback Byron Jones and defensive end Robert Quinn are also set to be free agents. Without a CBA extension, the Cowboys could theoretically use the franchise tag on Prescott and transition tag on Cooper. If there’s a new CBA, then they would only be able to use one tag, thus making it more likely Cooper, Jones or Quinn could hit the market.
“We haven’t gone into any details with players since the end of the season. We are really wanting to see where the CBA is,” Jones said. “The way I look at these contracts, the two we are talking about [Prescott and Cooper], when things get momentum they can happen in 24 hours. It’s just a matter of can you get some traction and [be] headed in the right direction.”
Chattanooga State asst. Volonte Bell killed in accident
Volonte Bell, an assistant men’s basketball coach at Chattanooga State and the older brother of New Orleans Saints safety Vonn Bell, was killed in a traffic accident Sunday night, the school confirmed.
The Chattanooga State family is deeply saddened by the passing of Volonte Bell. Volonte was killed in a tragic car accident last night. He has been a valued member of our men’s basketball coaching staff for the last three seasons and will be greatly missed.
— Chattanooga State Community College (@ChattStateCC) February 24, 2020
Thanks to everyone for all the love and support to my family and I during this time..we’re grieving right now, this one hits different.
— Vonn Bell (@Vonn) February 24, 2020
Hurt my soul man 💔 lost for words foreal we have memories since college visits man just watch over me I will always remember your energy and your smile you kept on your face wish we could flick it up just one more time. 😢 https://t.co/1z4NySlkJJ
— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike) February 24, 2020
Chattanooga State head coach Jay Price spoke glowingly to the Chattanooga Times Free Press about Volonte Bell, who was in his third year with the team.
“I spoke with his mother this morning and she was trying to be strong, but this is just a very sad day for all of us who knew him,” Price said. “Volonte was just a positive, energetic guy who was always upbeat. Anybody who met him will tell you the first thing you always noticed was his smile and that’s the thing a lot of us will remember him for.
“This was probably his last year to coach with us because he was too good at such a young age not to be moving up. His personality made him a perfect fit for the coaching world because he never met a stranger, he could talk to anybody and didn’t mind working hard. He had such a bright future ahead of him. It’s just hard to believe.”
The Chattanooga police department would not confirm the names of anyone involved in the accident. But according to police, the 29-year-old male later identified as Bell was pronounced dead on the scene shortly before 10 p.m.
According to police, he was driving a Honda Civic and failed to slow down before striking a trailer that was being towed by a Volvo truck in front of him in the middle lane of traffic.
Ex-Browns DE Chris Smith eyes NFL comeback after girlfriend’s death
Former Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Smith, whose girlfriend was killed in a traffic accident last September, is making a comeback and is looking to sign with an NFL team, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Smith is feeling better and ready to resume his career, the source said.
Smith’s girlfriend, Petara Cordero, was struck and killed by a driver on Interstate 90 in Cleveland. She had been a passenger in Smith’s 2019 Lamborghini and exited the vehicle when it had a tire malfunction and hit the median.
The couple had just had a daughter together the month before.
Smith started two games for the Browns in 2018, but compiled only one tackle in eight games following Cordero’s death.
The Browns released Smith on Dec. 3.
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