GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers has made it to Green Bay on the eve of the Packers’ first training-camp workout.

Rodgers was seen arriving at Lambeau Field on Tuesday morning, the day after NFL Network and ESPN reported the reigning MVP was closing in on a deal that would keep him with the Packers this season. The Packers later tweeted a photo of Rodgers at Lambeau Field – wearing oversize sunglasses and a novelty T-shirt referencing “The Office.”

The Packers open training camp Wednesday. Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Rodgers would have been subject to a $50,000 fine for every day he held out during camp.

Rodgers didn’t participate in organized team activities this spring – a change from his usual offseason routine – and skipped the Packers’ mandatory minicamp.

His future with the Packers had seemed tenuous after ESPN reported in the hours leading up to the draft that he didn’t want to return to Green Bay. Rodgers has spent his entire career with the Packers, who selected him with the 24th overall pick in the 2005 draft.

When the NFL’s only publicly owned team held its shareholders meeting Monday, Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy said he was hopeful the two sides could resolve their differences and added that they’d been “in constant communication.”

“We want him back,” Murphy told the 3,900 shareholders who gathered at Lambeau Field. “We’re committed to him for 2021 and beyond. He’s our leader. We’re looking forward to winning another Super Bowl with him.”

NFL Network reported Monday that Rodgers had told people close to him he planned to play for the Packers this season. ESPN reported that Rodgers and the Packers were on the verge of a deal in which the team would void the final year of the three-time MVP’s contract, perhaps clearing the way for him to leave Green Bay after the upcoming season.

On the same day that Rodgers reported to Lambeau Field, the Packers released quarterbacks Blake Bortles and Jake Dolegala. The Packers had signed Bortles in May, a couple of weeks after the reports of Rodgers’ discontent surfaced. Dolegala signed with the Packers in June.

Bortles’ release leaves Rodgers, 2020 first-round draft pick Jordan Love and Kurt Benkert as the lone quarterbacks on Green Bay’s roster. Benkert signed with the Packers less than a week after they added Bortles.

Neither Love nor Benkert has ever played a down in an NFL game.

The return of Rodgers would make the Packers legitimate Super Bowl contenders once again after they lost in the NFC championship game each of the last two seasons.

Rodgers, 37, threw for a league-high 48 touchdown passes with only five interceptions last season while helping the Packers lead the league in scoring. He also led the NFL in passer rating and completion percentage.

GIANTS: The Giants removed first-round draft pick Kadarius Toney from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and added leading tackler Blake Martinez and safety Joshua Kalu to the list.

Toney, a wide receiver from Florida, had tested positive last week after reporting with rookies at the Giants’ team headquarters in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The news about Martinez, a veteran inside linebacker, and Kalu surfaced after players went through drills to test their conditioning.

Judge said the team’s staff and coaches are vaccinated. He would not discuss the team’s vaccination rate.

PANTHERS: Sam Darnold wasn’t willing to divulge whether he’s been vaccinated against the coronavirus as the Carolina Panthers reported to training camp. Instead, Carolina’s new starting quarterback said his focus is on making “smart decisions” on the field as he tries to resurrect his NFL career after going 13-25 in three seasons in New York, prompting the Jets to trade him to the Panthers.

“People outside looking in can say there is a lot of pressure on (me) and he’s got to win – and that’s true,” Darnold said. “But at the end of the day it’s me going out and doing everything I can today to get better.”

The 24-year-old Darnold said on a Zoom call last month that he hadn’t been vaccinated, adding that he “still has to think about all those certain things that go into it.” He did not wear a mask Tuesday as he stood a few feet from reporters answering questions.

A Panthers spokesman wouldn’t say if Darnold had been vaccinated, but confirmed to The Associated Press that unvaccinated players are required to wear a mask while conducting interviews with the media.

VIKINGS: Minnesota and assistant coach Rick Dennison have found a solution for him to remain with the club despite his unvaccinated status prohibiting from interacting with players, agreeing to contract terms with the 63-year-old to take a role as senior offensive advisor.

The Vikings announced the reassignment the day before their first full-team practice of training camp. Phil Rauscher was promoted to fill Dennison’s offensive line coach position, after serving as his assistant last season. Ben Steele was hired as assistant offensive coach. The running game coordinator title that Dennison also carried will be dropped for now.

Dennison was hired by the Vikings in 2019. This will be his 27th year on an NFL coaching staff.

“It was important we use him as a resource,” head coach Mike Zimmer said, “but also give him a chance to work.”

Both Zimmer and General Manager Rick Spielman declined to divulge Dennison’s reason for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine, despite strict league-wide protocols for those without it. Zimmer said it’s possible Dennison would get it later.

COWBOYS: Dallas signed safety Malik Hooker on Tuesday, adding the 2017 first-round draft pick who couldn’t stay healthy in four seasons with Indianapolis.

Hooker visited the Cowboys in March but didn’t sign. He was drafted 15th overall by the Colts before battling shoulder, groin and knee injuries until a torn Achilles tendon ended his 2020 season after two games.

Dallas placed offensive lineman Mitch Hyatt on injured reserve to make room for Hooker, who wasn’t re-signed by the Colts after his rookie contract expired. Hyatt is coming off a knee injury.

DOLPHINS: All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard defused some drama from the start of Miami’s training camp by showing up for work. Howard joined the rest of the Dolphins reporting Tuesday after he sat out mandatory minicamp because he’s unhappy with the $75.25 million, five-year extension he signed two years ago. There had been speculation he might hold out.

“We’re excited to work with X and all the players that are here,” Coach Brian Flores said. “There are a lot of things that are good with having him here.”

Last year Howard had 10 interceptions, the most in the NFL since 2007. He also led the league with 20 passes defended. But Miami’s other starting cornerback, Byron Jones, has a bigger contract – an $82.5 million, five-year deal signed last year.

Flores declined to talk about any negotiations or trade possibilities regarding Howard.

CHIEFS: Kansas City is retiring Warpaint the horse, President Mark Donovan said at training camp.

Warpaint is a two-time Pinto World Champion who galloped on the field at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium before games and after the Chiefs scored a touchdown.

The pinto horse was originally ridden by a man in full Native American headdress. For years, a cheerleader has ridden Warpaint instead as the Chiefs distance themselves from Native American imagery.

Last season the Chiefs prohibited fans from wearing headdresses or war paint amid a push for more cultural sensitivity, and began pushing for a subtle change to the tomahawk chop celebration amid complaints that it’s racist. Cheerleaders used a closed fist instead of an open palm to signal the beating of a drum. The team typically has a celebrity or other guest of honor beat a large drum before the start of the game.

WASHINGTON: Ron Rivera opened training camp by expressing frustration about a lack of vaccinations among players, which has caused the cancer survivor to practice extra caution.

Rivera said he believed Washington is now over half the players in camp fully vaccinated. The NFL last week said 80% of players have started the vaccination process and that 27 of 32 teams had at least 70% of players either receive one vaccination shot or both.

Washington is not one of them – actually closer to 60% – and it has caused Rivera to take precautions.

“I’m truly frustrated,” Rivera said at his camp-opening news conference. “I’m beyond frustrated. One of the reasons I walked in with a mask on is I’m immune-deficient, so with this new variant, who knows? So when I’m in a group and the group’s not vaccinated or there’s a mixture, I put the mask on, and I do that for health reasons.”

Rivera was treated for skin cancer last year. His players’ vaccination hesitancy is one of many questions going into Rivera’s second camp as Washington’s coach.

Washington was one of two teams under 50% vaccinated in mid-July. Offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas was placed on the NFL’s COVID-19 reserve list Tuesday.

RAVENS: The Baltimore Ravens have signed defensive end Chris Smith.

Smith played eight games last season for the Las Vegas Raiders. In seven NFL seasons, he’s played in 68 games, starting two.

Smith spent his first three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars and then was with the Cincinnati Bengals for three.


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