GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Jared Abbrederis said he left no stone unturned during the month he missed because of a concussion on the first day of Green Bay Packers' training camp. That included a conversation with his former college teammate, Chris Borland, who abruptly quit the NFL in March over concern for his long-team health.
Abbrederis was back on the field Tuesday for the final practice of training camp and has been cleared to play in Thursday's preseason finale against the New Orleans Saints. It will be the first career NFL game -- preseason or regular season -- for the fifth-round pick from Wisconsin. He missed his entire rookie season last year after he blew out his knee a week into training camp.
"Obviously, he did a lot of research so I wanted to talk to him and see what his thought was and the reasons why he stopped and things like that," Abbrederis said of Borland. "It's different -- different spot, different position. A lot of people were asking, 'Hey, what do you think of Chris?' I'm at a different position. Wide receiver, you don't really take the shots every play like the linebackers do. It's totally different, but it was nice talking to him and get that confidence in myself to go out there so I'm not worried about taking hits."
Although Abbrederis would not say how many concussions he has sustained in his life (there's only one documented concussion during his time at Wisconsin, but he may have had others), he said he and the Packers both are confident it's safe for him to continue to play.
Abbrederis is not only a fan favorite -- he grew up in Wautoma, Wisconsin, and played for the home-state Badgers -- but he's popular in the locker room. He impressed quarterback Aaron Rodgers last season with how quickly he picked up the Packers' complex offense, and he has a close friend in backup quarterback Scott Tolzien, his former UW teammate.
Tolzien threw to Abbrederis on his first snap during Tuesday's practice, a deep ball that Abbrederis made an out-stretched-but-unsuccessful attempt to catch. Later in practice, Tolzien hit Abbrederis for a short touchdown during a red-zone drill.
"It's good to have him there obviously," said Alex Van Pelt, who coaches the Packers' quarterbacks and receivers. "He's had a tough road to get back but he's back now, diving around trying to make plays today so it's good to have him. Mentally, I think he's fine."
Tolzien spent the last week with Abbrederis as both went through the concussion protocol. Tolzien’s lasted a week, while Abbrederis' lasted more than a month.
"I mean, shoot, he's had a lot of time to contemplate and think about it every day where he's at mentally," Tolzien said. "So the fact that he's back leads me to believe that I think he's ready just because he's had plenty of time to weigh it."
Now that Abbrederis is back, it's worth wondering what kind of shot he has to make the team. Has any bubble player ever made it while practicing only in the first and last practices of training camp?
"It's better to be back now than not be back for another week, so at least I was able to make it back and hopefully have a good game," Abbrederis said. "You just go out there and try to do your best. I don't really try to crunch numbers or anything like that. You can't really worry about things like that. Otherwise, you could do that all day and drive yourself crazy."