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The Other Mr. Rodgers: Jordan Rodgers hoping to kickstart career in CFL

10/21/2014 08:56 EDT | Updated 12/21/2014 05:59 EST
SURREY, B.C. - Jordan Rodgers didn't know much about Canadian football before joining the B.C. Lions, so he did what most people do when they need information fast.

"I started looking up some rules on Google and caught a couple games on TV," he said after Tuesday's workout. "But there's so many intricacies you won't find on Wikipedia."

While players joining CFL practice rosters in October don't usually cause much of a ripple, Rodgers has — mostly because of his last name.

The younger brother of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has travelled north to give the CFL a shot in an attempt to kickstart his career after failing to stick with three separate NFL teams over the last two seasons.

Jordan Rodgers said it hasn't always been easy trying to carve out a niche while playing the same position as a sibling with a Super Bowl ring, among numerous other honours, but he has come to see it as a positive.

"I think early in my development as a quarterback, before I ever got a Division I college offer or anything, my brother was in the spotlight, first-round draft pick. People expected me to be him but I was underdeveloped, undersized, unrecruited ... so it was tough at that point," said the 26-year-old.

"But I'm confident in who I am, I'm confident in what I've done with my career and where it's going. It doesn't bother me anymore. If anything it's been a blessing — unbelievable resource to have to be able to pick up the phone and talk to him."

Rodgers played at Butte Community College — same as Aaron — after high school before starring at Vanderbilt University for two seasons.

He credits his last name with helping him get noticed at times, but added that doesn't count for much in the end.

"Regardless of if my play was sufficient or not, it got me on the radar. I think people recognize that last name and any press is good press," said Rodgers. "Having my name kind of pop out on a page more so than other people helped in recruiting, helped in a lot of different areas. But when it comes down to it and you're talking about professional football — you can either play or you can't. They don't care what your last name is at the end of the day."

Lions head coach Mike Benevides said Rodgers — who is the No. 5 quarterback at the moment and is really only here to get a look ahead of next season — has been on the team's radar for a while.

"I think the biggest thing our scouting department has always been really impressed with is just poise, his demeanour, his arm strength and his football IQ," said Benevides. "I think right now you see in two days he's really gravitating to the playbook, he's doing everything he can to try and get himself prepared. It looks like he has a passion for the game.

"And obviously there's some really good bloodlines."

The six-foot-one, 212-pound Rodgers prides himself on being a student of the game and having quick feet — two crucial attributes for CFL quarterbacks.

"I've had the liberty of having a lot of control in the offences I've been a part of because I get the game pretty well and I pick things up fast. I think I'm going to be able to pick this up fast," he said. "It's obviously a lot different than anything I've ever seen before. The mobility, I think, is huge — the field's bigger. You've got more space when things break down to get outside the pocket and make plays.

"That's something I've been good at my entire career so I think that translates well to this game."

One of the lessons Rodgers has learned from his famous brother is how to deal with setbacks. Before achieving NFL success, Aaron Rodgers tumbled to the end of the first round of the draft, before being tasked with replacing Brett Favre in Green Bay.

"He's handled the spotlight as well as anybody I've ever seen," said Jordan Rodgers. "I really respect him for how humble and how grounded he's stayed through a lot of the adversity he's had to go through. It's a great example to have."

There have been some growing pains the first couple of days with B.C. as the Chico, Calif., native tries to pick the brains of fellow quarterbacks Kevin Glenn, Travis Lulay (who is still rehabbing a shoulder injury), John Beck and Travis Partridge.

"Today was night and day different than it was yesterday. I was swimming in it yesterday," said Rodgers. "I was asking a lot of questions today but got a lot of the concepts, at least familiar with them. I haven't mastered anything yet ... some of the rules, looking at some of the coverages on film, just little thing I'm going to be picking up over the next couple of weeks."

Those next couple of weeks — beginning with a road game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (6-10) on Saturday — will also be critical for the Lions (8-7), who are coming off a bye and need one more victory to secure a playoff spot.

"We're running out of games here and our goal is always to get a ticket to the dance," said Benevides. "That's the first objective."

While the NFL remains the long-term goal for Rodgers, he's also grateful for the chances he's been given with the Lions.

"It's better to be playing, wherever that is, than not playing," he said. "I think this is a great brand of football, it's interesting and I'm going to be enjoy every moment I'm up here because I'm back on the field."

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