It wasn't easy for Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless to stay patient through the season's first five games.
His presence was inconsistent in the Packers offense. The 13 targets quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw his way weren't radically different than the eight he got through the first five games of last season, and that's when he was sitting behind Jermichael Finley on the depth chart.
Quarless didn't see a single pass in a game against the Chicago Bears earlier this month.
This wasn't the reason he signed a two-year, $3 million contract with Green Bay in the offseason. Quarless expected more, hoped to have a bigger presence in the passing game. Finally, in Miami, he got the opportunities he wanted.
Even before Quarless' 4-yard touchdown catch from Rodgers sealed a 27-24 win over the Dolphins with three seconds left, he had a more active day. His five targets from Rodgers tied for a season high. Throughout the game, Quarless told his quarterback he was open.
"Q is one of my favorite players on game day, because he will overcommunicate," Rodgers said. "You appreciate a guy who's telling you what he's seeing out there. He said, 'Hey, I've got a linebacker on me, and when he's on me, I like the matchup.' He told me a few times on the sidelines.
"You give him the, 'Yeah, yeah, I see it,' but you're also looking for it, too. Especially when it's Andrew, because you know it's not coming from a, 'I need the ball. You've got to throw it to me.' It's coming from a, 'Hey, I'm open if this guy is covering me.'"
Of course, Quarless came through when it counted. It's those types of plays that build trust with Rodgers, and trust leads to more targets from the quarterback.
With two catches for 11 yards against the Dolphins, Quarless didn't stuff the stat sheet. He's hoping to change that, building off his game-winning touchdown.
"I hope so. I hope so," Quarless said. "The future will tell, but it starts in practice. The more and more I split out and am moving around the field, it's only going to help and hopefully we can build upon it."
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