GREEN BAY - On Thursday, Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green was raving to local reporters about his former teammate, Jake Kumerow.
On Friday, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was doing it, too.
Before anyone sets up a plaque in Canton for the Green Bay Packers free-agent receiver, it’s important to note that the team has had five padded practices since training camp began and Kumerow has yet to play in a regular-season game during his three-plus years in the NFL.
Green might have told reporters that Kumerow is going to make the roster, but he still must prove himself over the next four weeks.
Still, there’s no question the former UW-Whitewater player has leap-frogged some of the draft picks and gained the trust of Rodgers. He has been receiving snaps with the No. 1 offense this week and he’s getting more and more playing time with Rodgers.
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“I think Jake Kumerow’s had a fantastic camp,” Rodgers said. “I think you have to spotlight him. He’s made a ton of plays. Did it all spring and summer and now he’s getting reps with me and making a ton of plays.
“He’s running the right route all the time and making contested catches and putting the ball away. It’s been pretty impressive for a guy from a small school in Wisconsin.”
Kumerow was an undrafted free agent in 2015, spent two seasons on the practice squad with Cincinnati and four weeks in 2017 on New England’s practice squad, so he knows a lot about playing receiver in the NFL.
The Packers signed him right after the season ended.
There wouldn’t seem to be much room for Kumerow given the Packers drafted three big receivers and are committed to Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison. Other receivers over the years such as Jeff Janis, Max McCaffrey, Myles White, Jared Abbrederis and Diondre Borel had good camps or showed athletic prowess only to flame out.
But Kumerow has showed a good combination of size, athletic ability and sure hands so far. All week, he has been impressive in practice and on Friday left rookie Jaire Alexander in the dust with a double move in one-on-ones and drew a pass interference penalty on cornerback Davon House on a deep ball.
“Don’t sleep on (No. 16) now,” House said after practice. “In our room, he’s up there on our chart in the receiving group. He’s good.”
House has been around some of those receivers who flash early and then fade away, but he said Kumerow’s rise has been constant.
“You know it was like, OTAs, OK, that’s one thing, but now…” House said. “He has earned a lot of guys’ respect. He’s been making plays, he’s been getting open, and sometimes you’re like, ‘How’s he getting open?’ But he’s not bad.”
Rookie linebacker Oren Burks was supposed to be learning from Blake Martinez and Jake Ryan.
On Friday, he replaced both of them.
With Ryan out for the season with a knee injury and Martinez absent because he became a new father, Burks was left to run the show. Not only did he have the radio helmet to receive the calls, he was supposed to help get other players set and in the right position.
“I’ve been wearing the helmet,” Burks said. “But now I’m giving the call and trying to be more vocal. That’s what it takes. I’m trying to get better every day.”
Burks said he understands how much Martinez has on his plate from having to take on his responsibilities.
“You get a taste of it,” Burks said. “When he’s gone, you definitely feel it.”