First, Rodgers did his research, saying:
I watched hours and hours and hours of episodes. Luckily Netflix has a few seasons, and I went back to DVR. But I had to watch from a different perspective -- from Alex's perspective. I couldn't watch it as a fan anymore.
I took pages and pages and pages of notes. I wrote down every affirmative that he said to any type of clue. I wrote down how he would respond if they didn't get it right. I wrote down beat points of the show. I wrote down all the different ways he would take it to break. I wrote down the stuff that he said coming out of break. Literally, I studied for this like no other. I wanted to absolutely just crush it.
The first day was just a practice session, but Rodgers said he showed up uber-prepared. He dished:
I know they didn't expect what I was about to bring, but I was just so prepared. I was so ready. So we get into the first game, the first run-through, there's 30 questions in a Jeopardy round, and after the first 15 questions, we go to break. They say it in your earpiece, 'Take it to break.' So I take it to break, and there was a pause, and I think everyone was like, 'Whoa, OK, this guy kind of knows what he's doing here.'
One of the head producers said as much. She was like, 'I'm just so appreciative of your approach.' And my whole thing was I felt like the best way to honor Alex's memory was to be so dialed in and so ready, and that's the approach I took. So I was ready to rock and roll.
Rodgers also teased that the first episode's Final Jeopardy round might contain a viral moment. He explained:
Just wait until you see the first show and what the returning champion wrote, and then think about me standing at the podium watching -- and this will make sense when you see what he wrote -- and I'm watching him write this down. For about 25 seconds, I'm watching him write this, and he thinks about the answer and says 'F--- it,' basically, 'I'm going to write this answer,' which, probably one of the viral moments of my two weeks will be his response, which is taking a shot at something that happened to us late in the season.
Rodgers' first episode airs Monday, April 5.