Packers not concerned about tight ends' slow start

Weston Hodkiewicz
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Jerry Fontenot knew the question was coming before it was even asked.

Green Bay Packers tight end Richard Rodgers gains long yardage on a reception against Oakland Raiders safety Charles Woodson.

It's the same one many have wondered coming out of the Green Bay Packers' 19-7 loss to the Detroit Lions last Sunday.

What in the world happened to rookie tight end Richard Rodgers during Eddie Lacy's second-quarter safety?

The Packers were trying to pull to the right side, but Detroit defensive end Jason Jones blew Rodgers off the ball and seemed to throw the entire play out of whack. With Rodgers backpedaling, Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy snuck past guard T.J. Lang to tackle Lacy a yard deep in the Packers' end zone.

Rodgers didn't do much in-line blocking at the University of California where he often was lining up as a receiver, so there's undoubtedly a learning curve to be conquered in the pros.

When asked about Rodgers' blocking Friday, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he's not concerned.

Neither is Fontenot, the team's third-year tight ends coach.

"When you're on the road and you're playing in a loud stadium, and you're backed up in your own end zone, there's a lot of obstacles there," Fontenot said. ""I could have helped out Richard in that situation to make it a more manageable block for him. I'm not concerned about where he is or where the group is overall.

"He's a kid who has a very steep learning curve. Of anybody in the room, I feel like he can handle it as well as anybody."

The Packers were excited about their options at tight end coming into the season, but seem to be missing Jermichael Finley so far. Rodgers has started the first three games, but has yet to record his first NFL reception. He has one target on 31 routes run, according to Pro Football Focus.

All of the room's offensive production has come through fifth-year veteran Andrew Quarless, who has eight catches for 77 yards. His 10-yard touchdown catch over Lions safety Isa Abdul-Quddus was one of the finest of his career and produced the Packers' only score.

As for Rodgers, Fontenot guarantees his opportunity will come.

"He's going to continue to run routes the way that we ask him to," Fontenot said. "The more that he gets on the field, the more opportunities he gets, he will get his first catch professionally. I'm confident, yes."

Meanwhile, many others have been wondering where second-year tight end Brandon Bostick has been in all of this?

Bostick, a converted receiver out of Newberry College, worked extensively in the no-huddle offense in training camp before suffering a fibula injury in the Packers' second preseason game in St. Louis on Aug. 16.

The 6-foot-3, 260-poundt tight end returned two weeks ago, but has been playing only on special teams where he was flagged for two penalties against the Lions.

Offensively, it seems the Packers could use a deep-field threat like Bostick to defeat the two high-safety looks they've recently been seeing. He caught seven passes for 120 yards and a touchdown in a span of four games before breaking his foot last December.

Fontenot acknowledged Bostick's relegation to the sideline has to do with his performance in practice. A notion coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Tom Clements alluded to earlier in the week.

"Bottom line is he has to take advantage of the opportunities he gets in practice," Fontenot said. "He has to prove he's on the same page with the quarterback. Whenever he's supposed to be somewhere, he needs to be there in the right amount of time. It's just a matter of getting back all that timing and work we spent through the offseason and actually through all the previous season, and building on that experience.

"Whenever he's ready, I'm sure you'll see him out there." and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.

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