From his home, Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless has watched his team struggle the past two weeks.
Quarless, on temporary injury reserve, hasn’t been able to play since he sprained his MCL against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3. At first, his absence was hardly noticeable. The Packers jumped out to a 6-0 start, and if the offense wasn’t red hot, the team was at least winning games.
Not so much the past two weeks. Which is why Quarless is itching to get back on the field. He’s eligible to start practicing this week, though he won’t be able to play until the Packers game against the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving night at the earliest.
“It’s tough to see my guys out there,” Quarless said. “I mean, we took two losses, but I think we’re still good. The locker room is not too down. We believe in ourselves. So I think we’ll be fine.”
Quarless isn’t the field-stretching tight end the Packers seem to desperately need, but he’s a veteran who has played a lot for the organization. At minimum, the sixth-year veteran could provide depth to a position that is among the Packers’ most inexperienced. Behind second-year starter Richard Rodgers, backups Justin Perillo and Kennard Backman have combined for five career games.
Rodgers has carried the load in Quarless’ absence. He has played 434 snaps at the season’s midway point, only 109 fewer than his rookie year. Rodgers could be hitting his stride, too. Long expected to be a red zone threat, he caught two short touchdowns Sunday and has four on the season.
Quarless said he has been impressed with his younger teammate.
“I think he made a lot of plays. He hasn’t made every play — he’s still learning and still growing," Quarless said. "I think he still has a lot more room to get better, but I think he’s doing pretty good. He has a lot of the load on him right now, which is tough. It’s tough when you take all those snaps with long drives and stuff like that. It’s tough.”
firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood