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GREEN BAY, Wis. — The one thing Jordan Love had as Aaron Rodgers‘ backup was time. Three years to watch how Rodgers practiced, prepared and played.

That doesn’t mean the lessons won’t continue now that Love has Rodgers’ old job as the Green Bay Packers‘ starting quarterback and Rodgers has moved on to the New York Jets.

“We talked after the trade,” Love said of Rodgers. “Kind of just, ‘Wish you the best going forward.’ He wished me the best and [is] always there for me if I need anything, if I have any questions or anything. I’m always just grateful to be around him and for the time I had with him, to be able to learn and be behind him. It’s very grateful for me.”

That doesn’t mean it was always easy.

“I’ll admit, I think the hardest time was when he re-signed the contract last year,” Love said of the three-year, $150 million contract Rodgers signed with the Packers in March 2022.

“It was kinda like, ‘OK, well, where do we go from here? What do I do?’ And I think I sat back, thought to myself and just came back with the approach, like, ‘Let’s just go ball out any opportunity I get. I’m gonna get preseason and who knows what happens after that, so just grow and try and become the best version of myself, and I can’t really control what happens after that, so let it play out.'”

Love knew he wouldn’t play right away even though Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst traded up to draft him at No. 26 in 2020. As a rookie, he was robbed of preseason action because the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out all the preseason games. In his second year, he started only one game — a loss at Kansas City that Rodgers missed. Last season, his only meaningful action came in the fourth quarter of a late-season loss at Philadelphia.

Of the wait, Love said: “Seemed like three years. Seemed like a while, looking back on it.”

“But at the same time, I think the first year was the longest,” Love added. “Rookie year, it’s a long year, first year in the league, first year playing a full season. It’s a lot different than college. I think the next two years kinda went a little bit faster, kinda flew by. But yeah, it’s definitely felt like a while.”

In his first public comments since Rodgers was traded to the Jets, Love made it clear that he’s not here to emulate Rodgers but spoke admiringly about the confidence with which Rodgers played.

In fact, confidence was a theme during his 17-minute news conference with reporters at Lambeau Field, and others have taken note.

“He believes in himself, first off,” Packers running back Aaron Jones said. “That’s No. 1. You’ve got to believe in yourself, or nobody else is going to believe in you. So, he believes in himself, he cares about everybody around him, and we’ve seen him just come in consistently and just work, work, work.

“As an athlete, you want to come in and play right away, and that wasn’t Jordan’s case; he didn’t have that opportunity. And he did it the right way, he waited his time and you never heard one peep or complaint out of him. He has everyone’s respect, and he works as well, just like everybody else.”

Earlier this offseason, Packers coach Matt LaFleur said he noticed a different swagger from Love as he worked in the team facility. Defensive tackle Kenny Clark also mentioned that Wednesday.

“I know he’s hungry; he’s hungry to ball out,” Clark said. “I can only imagine being in the situation that he’s in, to not be able to play; he didn’t play like that for four years, to get a chance to go out and show what he’s all about. That’s what you want. He’s hungry, and like I said he’s a guy that’s going to put in the work and get it done, so I’m excited about it.”

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Now QB1, Jordan Love ‘grateful’ for time behind Aaron Rodgers