Zach Wilson noted, while the Jets and Packers conducted the first of their two joint practices at Green Bay's training facility Wednesday, all the players are technically at the same level in the NFL, but ...
"Hey, that's Aaron Rodgers over there. That's kind of crazy."
The Jets' rookie quarterback spoke with reporters after the midday practice and admitted that, yeah, he is a fanboy of the Packers' QB, the defending NFL MVP, a Super Bowl champion and of course an insurance commercial superstar.
"He's someone I've modeled my game after, tried to copy what he's doing because he's done it the right way for such a long time," Wilson said. "I wouldn't necessarily say I was a Green Bay fan growing up but just a Rodgers fan. I always made sure I was watching him when he was on TV, watching his whole game, seeing what he was doing.
"But," he wanted people to know, "I didn't have a jersey."
Yet what Wilson did have after his BYU career and before being taken second overall in the April NFL Draft by the Jets was an agent connection with Rodgers. So the two have met and talked briefly about football and life, and that made it easier to shoot the breeze a little during practice.
"Aaron's a cool guy," Wilson said. "He has a lot of knowledge. He's a smart dude. It was cool just to ask him about footwork, what's going on on the field, what he's seeing. If I could spend more time with him and ask him more questions, I would."
When the Jets offense went to the sideline during team drills, Wilson also could watch Rodgers running the Packers' experienced offense. And there was at least one thing he said he could take away from those observations.
"The biggest thing I picked up was the two-minute drill, how cool and calm he is, like he's just messing around, playing backyard football. He just makes it work," Wilson said. "The way he understands the game, what's going on, the way he's able to change things, pick things up and still stay calm is pretty impressive."
Of course, these joint practices are about a lot more than the growing relationship between No. 2 in green and white and No. 12 in green and gold. Center Connor McGovern said the little he could take in looking over his shoulder after snaps told him that Wilson was successfully continuing to work on his nascent pro game all this week against the Packers' experienced defense.
"I haven't watched the film yet," McGovern said, "but what I kind of felt, they were dropping a lot, playing coverage, making Zach make plays. I could kind of see him using his feet a little more today. I think he got out well, he wasn't giddy. When nothing was open, he was able to go and show he has that playmaking ability. Zach's been awesome and you can see the growth every single day."
Wilson liked what he saw from the Green Bay defense, and from his own offense, and can't wait to do it again Thursday, then play at historic and "cool" Lambeau on Saturday.
"This is a great team, definitely a Super Bow-caliber team," Wilson said. "It's kind of cool to go against them, stack up what we've got and take our best shot. All of our guys are definitely taking advantage of it."
See the Best Images from Wednesday's Joint Practice in Green Bay