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 51-34 win over 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 only seven games for the Packers before a shoulder injury led to a dispute about his health and his eventual release.
“He can do it all over the field,” Rodgers said of Graham. “I don’t think he was used a ton in the past couple of years in the middle of the field, but he’s an incredible athlete, he’s got a wide, wide catch radius and there’s a lot of things he can do. It’s exciting to be able to have a guy like that. But look at that position. It was a hell of a night for the tight ends. Marcedes [Lewis] did some great things, Lance [Kendricks] as well, Bobby [Tonyan] with the touchdown catch, [Emanuel] Byrd with a nice catch down the middle and another nice catch, it was a really good night for the tight ends and coach [Brian] Angelico.”
It was a meaningful night for Rodgers in a different sense. It was his first game at Lambeau since Week 4 of last season. He broke his collarbone two weeks later at Minnesota and played his only game after that on the road — at Carolina in Week 15.
“First I’ve got to thank the fans,” Rodgers said. “To be back at Lambeau was a thrill and the ovation touched me. I have to kind of wipe away some tears in my eyes. I know getting over 30, those of us over 30, I think that’s a number where you start to get a little softer maybe and things get to you a little bit, but that really meant a lot to me. I had to settle myself down a little bit.”
Graham didn’t speak to reporters after the game.
The Rodgers-Graham connection has been a focus for the Packers’ offense throughout training camp, and when Graham made a one-handed touchdown catch on a fade route earlier this week in practice, Rodgers said: “We needed something like that.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy agreed. At halftime Thursday night, talking about the Graham TD, he said, “That was fun. Those two have been having a great camp. You can really see it all week, and that’s really what we were looking for — try to get Jimmy a couple throws, and I thought Aaron did a heck of a job the little time he was in there.”