Aaron Rodgers-Jimmy Graham’s first TD connection gets duo off to good start


GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Graham couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start.

Then again, the same was said last year at this time about the Green Bay Packers quarterback and tight end Martellus Bennett, and that did not end well.

Rodgers, who made his preseason debut in Thursday’s preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, capped his only series of the night with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Graham — the Packers’ marquee free-agent signing that was necessary after the Bennett signing blew up in their faces. Bennett, who caught Rodgers’ first touchdown pass of last preseason, played just seven games for the Packers before a shoulder injury led to dispute about his health and his eventual release.

The Rodgers-Graham connection has been a focus for the Packers’ offense throughout training camp and when Graham made a one-handed touchdown pass on a fade route earlier this week in practice, Rodgers said: “We needed something like that.”

“That’s what this time of year is for, when you start to get that flow and timing down,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said earlier this week. “Especially with a new combination as in Jimmy and Aaron. So those are very important plays. That goes back to the next focus, and that’s stack success. You have to put those things together and make sure, it’s just like any pass play, you have to have sound protection, scheme and execution. It’s no different than the execution between the quarterback timeclock and receiver.”

Neither Rodgers nor Graham played in last week’s preseason opener against the Titans. Rodgers hasn’t played in a Week 1 exhibition game since 2015, and Graham was nursing a sore knee.

Just like he did in preseason game No. 2 last year, Rodgers played just the opening series of the game. He completed 2-of-4 passes for 35 yards and the touchdown to Graham. The other completion was a 27-yard catch and run by Davante Adams on a slant. Rodgers also scrambled for 5 yards and also caught the Steelers with 12 men on the field on another player.

It was also Rodgers’ first appearance in a game at Lambeau Field since Week 4 of last season. He broke his collarbone the following week at Minnesota and the only game in his return came at Carolina in Week 15.



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