SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Aaron Rodgers offered some advice to No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young as he prepares to embark on his NFL career.
“Be gentle with yourself,” Rodgers said.
The 39-year-old quarterback added that sometimes every little snap and every practice can feel as if it’s the end of the world if things don’t go right. But he quickly added, “that’s not true.”
“It’s a long, long journey,” Rodgers said. “It’s about holding onto your confidence and enjoying the ride, enjoying the little things every day. But I think he’s got a great head on his shoulders, and he’ll be just fine.”
Rodgers played 18 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, but Wednesday represented his first chance to face an opponent as member of the New York Jets during joint practices with the Carolina Panthers at Wofford College.
For Young, the future of the Panthers franchise, it was his first competition of any kind against an opponent at this level.
The four-time MVP and the rookie both turned in solid performances.
Rodgers dominated the early portion of practice, completing 8 of 10 passes during 11-on-11 drills with deep completions to Allen Lazard and C.J. Uzomah. But things didn’t end well for Rodgers as the Jets went three-and-out during two-minute drills near the end of practice as players from both teams watched intently from the sideline.
Young, who just turned 22, looked particularly sharp in two-minute drills, going 5 of 7 and efficiently leading the Panthers down the field and into field-goal range. The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner distributed the ball to five different targets on the drive before walking off the field with a smile on his face and celebrating with teammates.
Panthers coach Frank Reich said he was pleased with Young’s performance.
“That’s what you can expect to see from our offense,” Reich said. “We want our quarterbacks to distribute the ball, be playmakers and be the Steph Curry. Just get the ball to these guys and let them make plays for you.”
Rodgers walked away feeling as if the Jets did some good things, but emphasized the need to find a starting five on the offensive line.
“We handled their front pretty well in the run game, but in the pass game there was some issues,” Rodgers said.
One of those issues was Panthers outside linebacker Brian Burns, who repeatedly found his way into the Jets backfield against an offensive line that remains largely unsettled with questions lingering at both tackle positions and center. Duane Brown is expected to fill one of the tackle spots, but has yet to practice this summer.
Before practice Rodgers approached Young and introduced himself.
Rodgers said he’s been a fan of Young since his days at Alabama, and nothing changed after meeting him for the first time.
“I like his demeanor,” Rodgers said. “I like his movement. I like the way he throws. ... I think Carolina is in good hands.”
Young is already showing he doesn’t get too high or too low, per Rodgers advice.
After getting picked off by Jets cornerback Brandin Echols early in practice, Young bounced back with a strike over the middle to rookie Jonathan Mingo, resulting in a big gain on the catch and run. He made quality throws the rest of practice, including a well-placed toss to a sliding Adam Thielen during two-minute drills.
“He doesn’t get affected by stuff like that,” Panthers tight end Hayden Hurst said. “It’s easy for a rookie to have his shoulders drop and the head drop a little bit, but he’s on to the next play.”
Reich said that Young’s ability to throw from different arm angles in the pocket and on the move reminds him of Rodgers. Young said that’s not by accident, saying that Rodgers had a big influence on him growing up.
Young called Rodgers “a pioneer” in the area of releasing the ball from different arm angles.
“He kind of opened that window for people to change their arm angles,” Young said. “He was one of those main guys that was able to perform consistently, and make that a part of who he was. ... He’s been doing that for a longer than it has been talked about.”
The Jets and Panthers resume joint practices on Thursday in preparation for Saturday’s preseason game in Charlotte, North Carolina. Young will start for the Panthers and see his first preseason action, but Rodgers will not play, according to coach Robert Saleh.
“He knows his body, he’s been doing this for a long time,” Saleh said. “There’s no question he’ll be ready for Week One.”
NOTES: Saleh said CB Sauce Gardner didn’t practice because he felt discomfort in his quadriceps during Tuesday’s practice and the team decided to hold him out for precautionary reasons. ... Jets WR Garrett Wilson was back at practice, but did not participate in team drills. ... The Panthers held out LB Frankie Luvu and WR Laviska Shenault because of minor injuries.
(WATCH BELOW: Fans get first look at QB Bryce Young in BofA stadium at Panthers Fan Fest)
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