A year ago, Jared Abbrederis was reduced to being only a spectator during the Green Bay Packers’ run to the NFC championship game.
A torn anterior cruciate ligament that Abbrederis sustained in his right knee during training camp forced the former Wisconsin standout to spend his rookie season on injured reserve. All the receiver could do is rehab and watch the season unfold in hopes of being a part of another successful surge in 2015.
This season hasn’t gone nearly as well for the Packers, who are seven-point underdogs entering Saturday night’s divisional-round playoff game in Arizona. However, Abbrederis has been healthy enough to show the Packers what he can do in gradual increments.
That workload could increase significantly this week with receiver Davante Adams unlikely to play against the Cardinals after tests showed the second-year receiver likely sprained his medial collateral ligament in the third quarter of Sunday’s 35-18 win over Washington, according to an NFL source.
“Having that year to sit there and not be able to play was frustrating,” said Abbrederis, who had nine catches for 111 yards in 10 games this year. “So to be able to be out here and help the team out, it’s fun, it’s a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to it.”
Adams’ exit led to Abbrederis playing a season-high 28 snaps as the Packers’ No. 3 receiver. He caught two passes for 14 yards, but his best play came on a successful two-point conversion in the fourth quarter when he shook Will Blackmon on a quick slant.
Since Abbrederis arrived in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL draft, quarterback Aaron Rodgers has spoken often about his comfort level with the Wautoma native. He went so far as to say after Abbrederis’ three catches for 33 yards against Oakland that “he needs to be on the field more.”
He’s seen his most action this year as a fourth receiver when Green Bay goes into his spread formation, but also shown the ability to play inside or outside. There were a few occasions after Adams left Sunday where Abbrederis even lined up inside of Randall Cobb, who split out wide.
“I talked to him today man, just asking him if he's ready, you know, I mean he's a gamer,” receiver James Jones said. “We're all in this room for a reason, we'll see what happens with Davante. But if Davante is not able to go, Jared will be ready for the challenge, and he knows we need him.”
The injury bug followed Abbrederis into his second NFL season. He sustained a concussion on the first day of training camp that sidelined him for a month. He then suffered a rib injury shortly after his activation from the practice squad that forced him to miss two games in November.
Abbrederis says the rib issue is behind him and feels good playing in his first NFL postseason. Right now, it's up to him and the rest of the Packers’ receivers to gain more separation than they did in the team’s 38-8 loss in Arizona two weeks ago.
Regardless of Adams' status for Saturday night, Abbrederis is grateful to be in a position to contribute rather than watch on.
“You come in, you’re supposed to play, you get drafted and you’re all excited, and then you get an injury,” Abbrederis said. “But that’s all part of it. There’s a reason for everything, and I truly believe that. it’s not what it was supposed to be, but down the road you know that things happen for a reason. I still don’t know, but obviously that’s last year and this year to be able to be out here and play, it’s great.”
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