GREEN BAY, Wis. – There’s a seldom-used receiver from the Green Bay Packers’ 2014 draft class who just might be able to energize their sluggish passing game late in the season.
No, it’s not Jeff Janis, the fan-favorite seventh-round pick who can’t seem to find a regular role in the offense.
At least his quarterback thinks he should.
“He can get open,” Aaron Rodgers said. “He’s a good route runner. He needs to be on the field more.”
McCarthy threw Abbrederis into the game in the third quarter as part of a four-receiver, one-back set after the Raiders took a 20-17 lead. Rodgers went to Abbrederis on the first play, and he caught 15-yard pass over the middle.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound receiver paid the price for it, getting drilled by safety Charles Woodson. But the oft-injured Abbrederis, who is still nursing sore ribs from an injury earlier this season, bounced right back up.
“You’ve got to make a play on the ball and hang on to it,” said Abbrederis, who missed all of his rookie season with a knee injury and most of this preseason because of a concussion. “You know you’re going to take a hit, but you’ve got to get the reception because that’s what counts. I could feel that he was coming, but it wasn’t too big a hit. It’s just another hit.”
On the next possession – the 19-play, 92-yard field goal drive – Abbrederis kept things going early with a 13-yard catch on third-and-5 from the Packers’ 10-yard line. An incompletion there would have killed the drive after just three plays.
“Any third down is huge; you’ve got to convert on third downs to keep drives alive,” Abbrederis said. “Long drives are the one that put a little dagger in the defense. It was a -play drive, so that was big.”
Abbrederis finished with three catches (on three targets) for 33 yards. He came into the game with just five catches for 73 yards on the season.
At this point, he’s a more reliable receiver than Janis, who was targeted four times but didn’t catch any of them and had one drop. Janis’ biggest contributions have come as a kickoff returner. He had a 47-yard return in third quarter and had a tackle for a 2-yard loss on punt coverage.