Beat writers Jim Owczarski and Ryan Wood analyze the Packers' season opener against the Bears and provide their predictions on who wins. USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers have three tight ends who have played a combined 27 seasons, a veteran group with as much experience as they’ve had in a long time, but they thought enough of Robert Tonyan to keep him on the 53-man roster.
In Tonyan, the Packers see a “move” tight end with the potential to develop into a weapon in the pass game. He’ll likely remain a special-teams contributor for now, but pass-game coordinator Jim Hostler said Tonyan could give the Packers an extra weapon in the future.
“Robert’s got some potential,” Hostler said. “He’s got route ability, meaning he has the ability to be in a multiple route tree inside and out. He’s got speed, obviously, and he’s got a body that’s still developing and growing. He’s got really good ball skills, he’s got a good understanding of football. All those things make for a tight end, especially a move tight end, somebody that you can move around and put in different spots as you saw us do."
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The question is whether Tonyan’s blocking can earn him a spot in the Packers' offense. So long as Jimmy Graham is healthy, he’ll be the Packers' primary tight end in the pass game. Other than Marcedes Lewis, the Packers don’t have another proven blocker at the position.
Tonyan, a converted receiver, remains a work in progress as a blocker. Tight ends coach Brian Angelichio said he’s optimistic Tonyan can develop in that area.
“Obviously that’s a different element of the game for him,” Angelichio said, “is being in a three-point stance with a guy right across from him. He embraced it. He showed he was willing to put his face in the fan, if you will. That’s an area that certainly he has to continue to grow in. The good thing is he showed signs that he’s willing to do that.”
The Packers are close to a full, clean bill of health entering their opener Sunday night against the Chicago Bears.
Safety Josh Jones (ankle) was the only player listed as out on the team’s injury report Friday. Inside linebackers Oren Burks (shoulder) and James Crawford (hamstring) were listed as questionable.
Josh did not practice this week because of his injury. Burks and Crawford were limited participants.