After losing Jordy Nelson for the season, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy issued a challenge to his young receivers before Tuesday's practice.
Pick it up.
Nelson's season-ending knee injury overshadowed an uneven performance for the Packers in Sunday's 24-19 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Once Aaron Rodgers exited the game, the offense scored only one touchdown in 11 series and went three-and-out on seven occasions.
There are a lot of things that played into the lack of production, but one thing that stood out to McCarthy on film was the receivers. With Nelson out, McCarthy wants to see more from them.
"Well, I would think after the corrections that were made today that everybody on our team (understands) we need to pick it up some," McCarthy said. "We had areas of our team that played very well. We had areas of our team that didn't play very well. The receiver group in particular, they need to pick it up. So the younger guys in that group, it's a training camp of opportunity that they need to take more advantage of."
Jeff Janis currently leads the Packers in the preseason with five receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown, though it was Ty Montgomery (two catches for 28 yards) who was taking reps in Nelson's place with the first-team offense on Tuesday.
Janis tested through the roof at the 2014 NFL combine and made the 53-man roster last summer based on his big-play production in camp, but knows more is expected in his second year. It begins with building chemistry with his quarterback.
"I think just being on the same page with Aaron," Janis said. "If he doesn't trust you, it's going to be hard for him to throw you the ball on Sundays. It's a big thing, but I'm going to keep working on it."
Myles White, in his third camp with the Packers, has three catches for 22 yards in two preseason games. White was on the bubble for the fifth receiver spot before Nelson's injury. His ability to play inside or outside should help him contest for a job.
Still, there are areas where he can improve. The same can be said for the rest of the Packers receivers going into Saturday's game against Philadelphia.
"When Jordy goes down, you have a guy who's week-in and week-out produced," White said. "The level we were playing at Sunday wasn't to the level that Aaron is used to or Mike is used to. He wants to see that level-type of performance. That's the standard and that's where we have to be at."
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