One of the most frequent criticisms of the Green Bay Packers' offense has been the inability of the wide receivers to get open.
The Packers believe second-year man Jared Abbrederis has the potential to help solve that problem, provided he can stay on the field. The former Wautoma and Wisconsin standout, a fifth-round selection in the 2014 NFL draft, lost his entire rookie season to a torn ACL and most of the 2015 preseason to a concussion. After finally earning a spot on the active roster, Abbrederis had four receptions for 57 yards against the Lions in his first extended action Nov. 15, but suffered a rib injury that sidelined him for the next two games.
Packers wide receivers coach Alex Van Pelt said a healthy Abbrederis is showing signs that he could be asset to the offense.
“He’s put together a couple of nice weeks of practice in a row, so I expect to see him earning more playing time,” Van Pelt said.
Abbrederis runs “good, clean, crisp routes” and is earning the trust of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Van Pelt said.
“The attention to detail is always there,” Van Pelt said. “Very rarely does he make mental errors. He does a nice job of knowing how a defender is playing him and knowing where his break point is and knowing where he needs to be and how to get there. … He’s very easy to read for a quarterback. You can tell exactly what he’s trying to set up in his route and he’s very deliberate at getting in and out of the breaks.”
Abbrederis, who was among the group of Packers receivers in the end zone when tight end Richard Rodgers caught the Hail Mary pass that beat the Lions on Dec. 3, sat down Thursday with Press-Gazette Media and offered his take on the miracle play and more:
What was your role on the Hail Mary play?
I was just running down there trying to catch it if it deflected or something, just be in the area. When I saw Richard catch it, it was crazy!
What was going through your mind as the play was unfolding?
You’re not thinking of anything except trying to get the ball. That’s all that is on your mind. When I saw Rich go up and nobody was really by him, I thought, “Wow, that’s crazy!” It was nuts.
What can a win like that do for a team psychologically going forward?
It just shows that you have to find a way to win. It was big for us and now we’ll see what happens.
You’ve had a run of bad injury luck. Feel good to finally be healthy and seeing action?
In the league you always have things you have to battle through. I feel good, feel like I’m coming along and I just have to keep improving each week.
How frustrating was it for you to miss your entire rookie season with the ACL injury?
Obviously, you don’t want to go through anything like that, especially your rookie year when they don’t know who you are yet. So it was really frustrating.
You got cut at the end of training camp this season but were brought back on the practice squad. Did you ever look into going elsewhere?
This is where I wanted to be. The group of guys around here, the way the coaches treat you … this is a good organization to be a part of.
We hear a lot of about Packers receivers “not getting open.” What does that entail?
It depends on coverages and plays, whether you’re supposed to sit or run away. Sometimes it just depends on the play call. Winning at the line in press coverage, you’ve got to use your hands to get off, set ‘em up with your feet. Or you can win during the route, give him moves out or in to try to get him off you a little bit. Or at the top of the route, too, just being physical, better arm pressure and all that kind of stuff just to get yourself open.
Aaron Rodgers seems to trust you. What’s it been like working with him?
You want to stay where you’ve got the guy throwing you the ball who’s the best in the league.
What are your strengths as a wide receiver?
Route running, catching the ball, being where you’re supposed to be and getting to the spots. Just trying to be on the same page with No. 12. The more you do, the more you play with him, the more you get on the same page. That’s been big this year, just being able to be in practice and the games.
In the wake of the Dez Bryant play against the Packers last January and similar controversies, an NFL committee will study what constitutes a catch. What are your thoughts?
You don’t really think about that when you’re playing, you just use good fundamentals. Pluck and tuck -- I always work on trying to catch it and tuck it right away. That’s part of the game, you’re going to have calls, whether it’s pass interference that wasn’t called or different things, the officiating … you can’t really worry about that, you just have to do your part and whatever is called is going to be called.
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