GREEN BAY - With each day of healing for tight end Jared Cook, whose foot required preventative surgery earlier this summer, the reps for those behind him continue to increase. Everyone jumped a notch on the Green Bay Packers’ depth chart.
The most fortuitous opportunity likely belonged to Justin Perillo, who ended last season on the active roster after beginning the year on the practice squad. Perillo, slotted third behind Richard Rodgers and Cook, now received significant reps with the first-team offense.
“Just do the same thing I did last year: come in every day and work hard,” Perillo said. “When the opportunities present themselves, just make them. Be a good teammate and try to make as many plays as possible.”
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Through a week of training camp, Perillo has done nothing but improve his standing. Much like Rodgers, the presumed starter, Perillo displayed reliable hands regardless of the quarterback under center. He has been particularly effective running vertically over the middle of the field, where over-the-shoulder catches have impressed reporters and fans alike.
“That’s your job,” Perillo said. “That’s what tight ends do. They have to go across the middle in traffic. You have to go into traffic with people around you and catch the ball. You’ve just got to go up and get it. If there’s someone around you, you take the hit.”
Promoted to the active roster on Oct. 14, Perillo received inconsistent playing time for the remainder of last season. He earned 121 snaps and finished with 11 catches for 102 yards and one touchdown.
But forgettable as his statistical contribution might have been, Perillo caught 11 of the 13 passes thrown his way without a drop. The same sure-handedness and ability to get open followed him into camp this season.
“In college (at Maine) we definitely ran a lot of routes with the tight ends, a lot of option routes, stick routes, verticals,” Perillo said. “I had to work on that because I’m not the biggest guy and I’m not the fastest guy. I definitely had to use that to my advantage and read defenses and sit in holes or get out of my breaks faster.”
Earlier this week, offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett spoke glowingly of Perillo’s route running.
“Love his ability to create separation,” Bennett said. “That stands out and ultimately when he has an opportunity, he makes the play, and that's results. But as far as doing the little things, he's one of those guys, attention to detail about doing it the right way, understands the leverage of a defender and knows how to create separation.”