Packers tight end Jimmy Graham still growing sense of trust with QB Aaron Rodgers

Olivia Reiner
Packers News
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Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham (80) makes a face as he dons his helmet during practice Thursday, November 8, 2018 at the Don Hutson Center in Ashwaubenon, Wis.

GREEN BAY - Despite a sluggish start through the season’s first half, offensive coordinator Joe Philbin sees plenty of potential for the Green Bay Packers' offense down the stretch.

“It’s one of those things where again we think there’s still a lot of upside with this offense and a lot more production that we can get,” Philbin said. “We’re counting on that as the season progresses.”

One area where the Packers could glean more production in their pass game is with tight end Jimmy Graham.

The NFL veteran has 32 receptions for 425 yards this season, which puts him on a respectable 16-game pace. However, offensive pass-game coordinator Jim Hostler said Graham’s timing with Rodgers remains a work in progress.

Hostler said Graham, not unlike the rookie receivers, is still getting used to playing in the Packers’ system. Additionally, Graham and Rodgers are gradually establishing a sense of trust that is integral to any relationship between a quarterback and receiver.

“It just doesn’t happen overnight,” Hostler said. “You’ve got to trust if you’re going to put a ball in a tight window for a guy, and he’s going to make a play on the ball. And that’s all part of it. I think he has that trust with Davante (Adams), and he’s building it with some other guys.”

Injury uncertainty 

The Packers will have to weigh risk and reward with three players on their injury report entering Sunday’s game against Miami.

Receiver Randall Cobb (hamstring), right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) and inside linebacker Blake Martinez (sprained ankle) are listed as questionable. Each are starters, but with the Packers flying across country for a Thursday night game in Seattle next week, they’ll have to determine whether it’s wise for them to play against the Dolphins.

Defensive lineman Mike Daniels was listed as limited in Thursday’s practice after a shoulder injury flared up, but he was not part of the Packers' injury report Friday. Projected as a full participant, he should be good to go for Sunday.

The Packers listed cornerback Kevin King (knee) out of Sunday’s game, as expected. Coach Mike McCarthy said at the beginning of the week King would be unlikely to play against the Dolphins. 

Williams’ new opportunity

When running back Ty Montgomery was shipped off to the Baltimore Ravens last week, Aaron Jones wasn’t the only one who saw his role increase.

While Jones should get more carries in Montgomery’s absence, fellow tailback Jamaal Williams slid into the two-minute offense.

In the last two minutes of the first half against the New England Patriots, Williams ran for 7 yards and caught a short pass for 4.

The new responsibility isn’t foreign to Williams. He said he was Montgomery’s backup and had been practicing the drill leading up to the trade.

“As long as you practice the same way you go into the game, it really is the same,” Williams said. “As long as you prepare yourself and know what you're doing, the game will be easier for you.”

Williams and Jones will continue to get more practice reps in all areas, not just the two-minute offense, because of their two-man rotation. With one less player to work in, running backs coach Ben Sirmans said both remaining tailbacks should benefit from extra reps.

“The more and more you can practice certain plays and practice what you’re doing, I mean, obviously the better you should be able to perform (in games),” Sirmans said.

Eventually, Jones might find his way into the two-minute offense as well, but while he’s a more dynamic runner with the football, Williams’ skill set as a blocker and receiver fit better in the hurry-up attack. Hostler said Jones, who has only eight receptions in his six games, is in a “developmental” role as a receiver.



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