Packers Camp Insider: Unheralded WR Jake Kumerow quickly making a name for himself
» There’s a good chance most Green Bay Packers fans didn’t consider the name “Jake Kumerow” all offseason. But through one week of camp, the former Wisconsin-Whitewater transfer has done what perhaps nobody expected, putting himself in contention for a spot on the 53.
Kumerow, a receiver the Packers signed to a futures contract Jan. 2, didn’t figure to have a great chance at cracking the depth chart. The Packers drafted three receivers, filling the position with young, developmental talent. But through the first five practices in camp – three of them in pads – Kumerow has looked as good as J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown. He has rotated in with the first-team offense, even catching a swing pass from Aaron Rodgers on Monday.
Kumerow caught two touchdowns in red-zone drills during Tuesday’s practice. The second came after drawing a penalty from Packers cornerback Demetri Goodson, who dragged Kumerow to the ground after getting beaten on an out route. Kumerow got up limping – “just got my foot stepped on,” he said, “nothing actually hurt at all” – and caught a touchdown against Goodson on the next rep.
But the highlight of Kumerow’s practice might have been an incompletion. Going against Tramon Williams in one-on-one drills, Kumerow used a double move to entice the veteran cornerback to bite hard on an underneath pass. He then turned upfield and, if not for his feet getting tangled, would have caught an easy touchdown.
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Kumerow said the Packers only recently installed that particular double-move route. He’ll need to be cleaner when he turns upfield, but that Kumerow executed it well enough to get a 12th-year veteran so badly out of position was impressive.
“That one specifically is just patience,” Kumerow said. “A coaching point on that one was don’t start the second move until you get eyes on the quarterback. So it’s not like you can do it and then go. You have to do it, give him your eyes and then take off. So that was patience.
“One of the things my coaches used to say was the bigger the bait, the bigger the bite. So you have to give him a big bait and then he’ll bite hard on the double move.”
Kumerow has had to use plenty of patience in his career. He spent 2015 and '16 on the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad. He was poised to make a run at a roster spot last year, but an ankle injury on the first day of camp forced him to miss the rest of the preseason. Kumerow was signed to the New England Patriots practice squad last October.
To make the Packers' roster, he’ll need many more days like Tuesday. But he's off to the right start.
» Bryan Bulaga’s return to the practice field appears to be getting closer.
The ninth-year right tackle has spent most of his first week in camp doing footwork drills in a far corner at Ray Nitschke Field. Off to the side Tuesday, Bulaga worked on his back step and did high-sidestep drills while wearing a brace over his surgically repaired right knee.
He said after practice his knee feels good.
“I’ve done a lot of testing,” Bulaga said. “I’ve done the trainers specific testing: single leg, double leg, strength. I’ve done all of those things, and I’ve passed all those things. So I think for me, the next hurdle is getting back on the field, and then testing it against doing individual with the O-linemen and pushing on guys that are 300-plus pounds, and seeing how it responds the next day and kind of just building a good progression up. Then going into team drills and doing those reps, seeing how that feels and how that responds the next day and how it goes from there.”
Bulaga has said the biggest hurdle keeping him from practice is time. He’s not yet nine months removed from tearing his ACL, which is considered the standard minimum for returning. That date is coming up Aug. 6.
With how Bulaga looked Tuesday, his return might not come much later.
A day after Aaron Rodgers threw three interceptions, the Packers' defense didn’t get a single pick Tuesday. Coming closest was second-year outside linebacker Vince Biegel, who dropped what would’ve been Rodgers’ eighth interception of camp. Biegel stepped between Rodgers and fullback Aaron Ripkowski in the flat, but couldn’t hang onto the football. DeShone Kizer had a pair of nice touchdown throws in the red-zone drill, including the perfect fade pass to Kumerow against Goodson. “It was a good ball,” Kumerow said. “Perfect placement.” Brett Hundley continues to get second-team reps behind Rodgers.
Bits and pieces
» With safety Kentrell Brice and inside linebacker Jake Ryan unable to practice because of injury, there are more reps to distribute. On Tuesday, it appeared most of those reps were going to safety Jermaine Whitehead and linebacker Ahmad Thomas. Whitehead, who played 10 games last season, got first-team reps in the Packers' sub-package and appears to be ahead of Marwin Evans on the depth chart. Perhaps he could push fellow safety Josh Jones for playing time. Thomas would especially benefit if Ryan misses a significant amount of time, perhaps earning a job on the 53-man roster. He was third in the inside linebacker rotation Tuesday, behind Blake Martinez and rookie Oren Burks.
» Cornerback Lenzy Pipkins and receiver DeAngelo Yancey got feisty during one-on-one drills. The two got in a shoving match at the line of scrimmage before the rep began. Pipkins stood out in the one-on-ones, including a good cover against veteran Randall Cobb that ended the drill.
» Jimmy Graham caught his first touchdown from Rodgers in team drills. Graham leaped over cornerback Herb Waters to catch Rodgers’ high pass. A huge target, it probably won’t be the last time Graham catches a red-zone touchdown from Rodgers.
Brice (ankle) and DL Mike Daniels (quad) did not practice but watched on the field. Brice was noticeably limping after being carted off the field Monday. Ryan (knee) was not at practice. Coach Mike McCarthy said Ryan was getting tests done Tuesday morning and had no timeline for his return. Fullback Joe Kerridge (shoulder) also missed practice.
Quote of the day
“I think everybody kind of still feels the same like we always have that we want to get something done. There’s just a time element to it. I wouldn’t put any timelines on it, you know? As long as everybody is working toward the same goal, I think we feel positive about it.” – GM Brian Gutekunst on the situation with Rodgers’ contract extension
The next practice is 11:15 a.m. Thursday at Ray Nitschke Field.