Why Aaron Rodgers throws a ton of interceptions in practice, and doesn't care

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has the lowest interception rate in NFL history, has thrown five interceptions through six practices at training camp.

So, what’s the problem?

As Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy told the Journal Sentinel’s Michael Cohen, there is none.

Cohen reports that Rodgers has been purposely throwing low-percentage passes into coverage, where they could easily be intercepted, in order to force his wide receivers to make a play on the ball. While this may result in him throwing more picks in practice, forcing his receivers to make difficult plays helps him learn what works and what doesn’t, and leads to fewer interceptions in the regular season — he games that matter.

“I threw five last year in the regular season, so I know how to play in those games,” Rodgers said. “Practice is about — it’s different plays. The playbook is exponentially larger than the regular season, game-week plan. So we’re trying different things. …So you make different throws, you’re working through different plays.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Kevin Clark described it like this:

When speaking with Cohen, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said something similar.

“I would think at least three or four of [the interceptions] were competitive balls,” McCarthy said. “I mean, he’s going to do things in training camp that he might not obviously do on a Sunday — give guys chances to make plays and so forth.bSo I guess to answer your question, I’m not concerned about [the interceptions].”

Rodgers’ strategy isn’t new. It’s something coaches noticed last year when he would throw two interceptions in a practice, and then go more than a month without throwing any in a regular season game. During the middle of Rodgers’ eventual MVP campaign last season, the Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn wrote about Rodgers’ practice philosophy when he asked Packers coaches when was the last time he threw a bad interception:

When was Rodgers’ last ugly interception, anyway?

“You tell me,” said McCarthy. “You’ll have to go back a ways to find one of those. I can’t think of one off the top of my head.”

Alex Van Pelt, the team’s first-year coach of quarterbacks, had a ready reply. It was Thursday in practice, two of them, in fact.

Rodgers also was intercepted half a dozen times or more during training camp. For the most part, the coaches say that’s just Rodgers testing a certain route against a certain coverage and then storing away the results for when the throw counts.”

For Rodgers, this is all part of the plan.

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