FOXBORO, Mass. — The lovefest for Aaron Rodgers continued around Gillette Stadium on Friday.
New England Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner, who has played Rodgers since they were Pac-10 rivals back in college, had some high praise for the Green Bay Packers quarterback.
“I’ve seen him do some great things,” Browner said. “He’s very exceptional. I think he’s one of the best across the league, if not the best.”
Browner, an Oregon State product, faced Rodgers’ Cal Bears in 2003 and 2004. Browner played the Packers in 2012 while with the Seattle Seahawks and again in 2013 during the preseason.
Browner and the Patriots know that they’ll have to slow down Rodgers and wideout Jordy Nelson early. Green Bay has outscored opponents 66-0 in the first quarter over their last four home games.
“They get off to a fast start,” Browner said. “We’ll have our hands full with those two, but I think we’re ready for them.”
Nelson has 68 catches for 1,066 yards and nine touchdowns already this season, but he didn’t have much success the last time he faced off against Browner. Nelson had just two catches for 19 yards on three targets in 2012 against the Seahawks. Browner didn’t allow a reception to Nelson on one target.
“He’s fast,” Browner said. “He never gives up on a play. Aaron Rodgers is good at extending plays, and I think once he extends plays, Jordy Nelson has a tendency to take off towards the end zone, which can result in an explosive play or a touchdown.”
Those are the plays the Patriots will try to limit so they can stick with the Packers. Nelson and Rodgers also excel on back-shoulder hookups. Browner said his length can help on those plays, but great signal-callers like Rodgers can still fit the ball in a tight window.
“Tight coverage. Playing the man — I guess his eyes, things of that nature,” Browner said when asked about the keys to stopping the back-shoulder fade. “When he throws his hands up, trying to get your head around as fast as possible.”
Rodgers, Nelson and slot receiver Randall Cobb present the greatest challenge the Patriots have faced this season. But if any defense can slow them down, it’s the Patriots, with a secondary led by Browner, fellow cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Devin McCourty.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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