Rodgers feeling more at ease

Aaron Rodgers gave the Green Bay Packers an action-packed snapshot of his potential Thursday evening in a scrimmage against the Buffalo Bills at Clarke Hinkle Field. The rookie quarterback, who struggled during the team's June minicamp, is reaching a comfort level with the offense that is allowing him to take a step closer as Brett Favre's top backup.

During the 11-on-11 scrimmage portion of the practice, Rodgers completed 5 of 6 passes, and a few of his throws covered 30 or more yards. The highlight of the practice occurred on the final play when Rodgers connected with running back Tony Fisher for a 27-yard touchdown.

"He told me coming out of the huddle, he said, ‘Look for me,' Rodgers said. "You really are looking at how the defense adjusts. They didn't know what to do at first, and they sent a 'backer (linebacker) out there. ‘Fish' on a 'backer is a good matchup for us. I want to make sure he won, and he did. I put the ball in a spot where he could get it."

Fisher beat Bills rookie free agent Wendell Hunter, who played with Rodgers at the University of California last year. Aside from making a picture-perfect throw in a spot where only Fisher could make the catch, Rodgers showed an ability to go through his progressions on the play to find the open receiver.

"Knowing where to go with the ball," Packers quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell said. "There are many different scenarios in different plays. We have had seven installs, and we've used all those installs in this scrimmage. For him to be able to pick them all up and know where to go with the ball is exciting."

Rodgers practiced mainly against Buffalo's second- and third-string defenses. He showed good command and a confidence that has steadily improved over the past month and a half.

During the June minicamp, Rodgers was having trouble getting to the third or fourth read on a play. As a result, he was rushing throws, which either sailed high, or into the turf. Rodgers worked with quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell for two weeks after the minicamp, then studied the playbook on his own before training camp. The results have been favorable and he is much more comfortable in the pocket now than in June.

"In the first minicamp, we didn't ask a whole lot out of him and he was pretty sharp throwing the ball," said Packers offensive coordinator Tom Rossley. "In the second minicamp, we threw a lot at him, and we didn't think he'd be all that good. He was digesting. The good thing about him is when he came in late to training camp, he really had retained a lot from the last minicamp and kind of fell right in. It seems like things are registering pretty good. He's delivering the ball and throwing pretty good."

Rodgers also completed a long pass over the middle to tight end Sean McHugh during the team scrimmage. He showed good arm strength while rolling out of the pocket to connect with wide receiver Craig Bragg during a 7-on-7 drill.

"I feel like I've made a lot of strides," Rodgers said. "Mentally, when I know what I'm doing, then I can relax and play. In the minicamp, you saw me thinking a lot and not very confident. I've been able to find a comfort level, so I can relax and play."

The Packers plan to use Rodgers more Friday in the team's Family Night scrimmage against the Bills in Lambeau Field. He is competing against Craig Nall and J.T. O'Sullivan for the backup spot behind Favre.

"Every day is going to be a learning experience for him," Rossley said. "The game speeds up tomorrow night. The game will speed up in preseason and the game will speed up in the regular season."


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