GREEN BAY – A thigh injury that would have sidelined receiver Jared Abbrederis for two weeks tipped the scales against the former University of Wisconsin standout and in favor of practice squad receiver Geronimo Allison.
Though the Packers easily could have waited for Abbrederis to get healthy without the risk of running thin at wide receiver, they decided to put him on injured reserve and bring up Allison, a promising rookie free agent who had an excellent training camp.
By putting Abbrederis on injured reserve, they effectively were releasing him, which they officially did Thursday after agreeing on an injury settlement.
At this point in the season, a player would have to be deemed as needing six or more weeks to return to health in order to stay on injured reserve all season. Since Abbrederis was only going to need two weeks, a source familiar with the situation said, he was put on injured reserve with a “minor” designation.
Abbrederis was free to rehab at the Packers' facility, but once he was healthy the team would have had to waive him. Instead, Abbrederis’ agent, Rick Smith, negotiated an injury settlement that would allow the Wautoma native to rehab elsewhere and get on with a career that will no longer be associated with his home state’s team.
Abbrederis is immediately subject to waivers, but given he has an injury, he probably won’t be claimed in the 24-hour waiver period and will be a free agent. Once he’s healthy, he’s likely to sign with another team.
The second of two fifth-round Packers picks in the 2014 draft, Abbrederis was a favorite of general manager Ted Thompson’s. He stood by the receiver after a torn ACL ruined his rookie season, a concussion caused him to miss most of the following training camp and a rib injury cost him two games last year.
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Abbrederis came through with four catches for 55 yards in the Packers’ divisional playoff loss to Arizona in January and followed it up with a very good training camp. It was so good that Thompson kept seven wide receivers on the roster and Allison wasn’t one of them.
Thompson correctly predicted Allison would clear waivers and be eligible to return on the practice squad.
Once the regular season started, the coaches decided against using Abbrederis as anything more than a fifth or sixth receiver despite not having Jeff Janis (broken hand) and rookie Trevor Davis learning the ropes.
Abbrederis played 14 snaps in the season opener, but was targeted just once, catching an 8-yard pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers. In the next four games, he played just 10 plays from scrimmage and was targeted just once.
His main contribution was on special teams.
Abbrederis appeared to get hurt blocking in the Dallas game Oct. 16. Rodgers threw to him once in that game and appeared to be upset with the way Abbrederis ran his route.
Now that Ty Montgomery has been moved to running back, the Packers had a manageable number of receivers (six), but when Abbrederis got hurt and Randall Cobb pulled a hamstring against Chicago on Oct. 20, the coaches felt it necessary to bring Allison aboard.
So, he was signed off the practice squad Monday and goes into Sunday competing with Janis and Davis for playing time. If Janis continues to struggle with the offense and Davis isn’t productive, Allison could play.
The 6-3, 202-pound Allison finished second to Abbrederis with six catches for 119 yards during the exhibition season and seemed to always be in the right place during training-camp practices. Though not very fast (4.67-second 40-yard dash) or explosive (34 ½-inch vertical jump), he managed to consistently get open.
“You look at how he prepares, how he goes out and practices day-in and day-out and you see a guy who for a young player really has a good grasp on our playbook,” Packers offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said. “He’s fundamentally sound, and now he gets an opportunity to take all that he’s been doing over the past few months and applying it on game day.
“He’s another player that he’ll have some opportunities and we’ve just got to take advantage of those opportunities.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he learned after some failures with practice squad additions that he needed to prepare them to play rather than just use them as scout team fodder. So, the practice squad players get chances with the No. 1 offense or defense and prepare the same as everybody else each week.
Allison said he went into every Sunday expecting to be signed to the 53.
“Sometimes they’ll mix me in, just keeping me in synch on offense and keeping me on the same page,” Allison said of practice. “But as a practice squad player you still prepare because you never know when they’re going to call you.”
Allison isn’t sure why after such a good camp other teams didn’t claim him on waivers, but he said once he was back with the Packers he went about improving his knowledge of the offense and how to play wide receiver in the NFL.
Now he’s going to get a chance to see how well he can do it.
“It kind of gave me more time to grow as a player and still get comfortable with the offense and just kind of sit back and watch while the veterans were working and see how they prepare also,” Allison said. “The guys told me, at the end of the day it’s still football.
“Just go out there, know your assignment, go through your mental process and just go make a play on the ball.”