GREEN BAY, Wis. -- By the end of the Green Bay Packers’ playoff loss at Arizona last season, they had practically run out of receivers. They had only three available. Two of them, Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis, barely played during the regular season. The other, James Jones, isn’t even on the team anymore.
Now the Packers are heading into training camp with an abundance of receivers, and they may have to cut someone who was a contributor last season unless they’re willing to keep seven receivers on the 53-man roster. Last year, they went into the season with five, and they typically don't keep more than six.
Though there are question marks and potential issues with most of the seven who are getting the heaviest consideration, it is possible that Aaron Rodgers will have his deepest and best array of targets since perhaps 2011, when he set the NFL’s single-season record for passer rating and set franchise records for touchdown passes and passing yards.
Between now and the Packers' first training camp practice on July 26, we will break down each position group.
Next up, receivers:
Gone from last season: James Jones.
Position coach: Luke Getsy (first season, previously spent two seasons as an offensive quality-control assistant).
Biggest issue: How long will it take for Nelson to get his timing back with Rodgers? While it may seem like this would be like riding a bike for a Pro Bowl receiver who caught nearly 100 passes in his last NFL season, Nelson and Rodgers acknowledged this offseason that they’ll need some practice time together to make sure they’re back on form after Nelson missed all of last season because of the torn ACL he suffered last August. However, it’s possible the Packers may not clear Nelson to start practicing right away when camp opens next week.
Player to watch: Abbrederis is entering his third NFL training camp, yet he never has made the 53-man roster coming out of training camp. The former fifth-round pick from Wisconsin blew out his knee before the first preseason game as a rookie and last year missed all but the final week of camp because of a concussion in the first practice. Promoted from the practice squad midway through the season, Abbrederis caught four passes for 55 yards in the playoff loss at Arizona. At the end of minicamp in June, coach Mike McCarthy said Abbrederis had been “exceptional” this offseason.
Medical report: Nelson isn’t the only receiver coming off injured reserve. Montgomery never played after Week 6 last year and he finally underwent ankle surgery in December. Like Nelson, Montgomery missed all of the offseason practices.
Help wanted: After a disappointing second season, Adams will face some stiff competition for the No. 3 receiver spot – which is essentially a starting job alongside Nelson and Cobb. Janis appears to have gained the trust of his quarterback and his coaches after his breakout performance (seven catches, 145 yards and two touchdowns) against the Cardinals in the playoffs, so he could push for the job. So could Montgomery, who showed signs of versatility before his injury.
Quotable: “We missed a year together, so there’ll be some extra time we’ll put together working on stuff and the little nuances we’ve added and just getting familiar with body language and the break points and different things,” Rodgers said of Nelson. “We’ve played a lot of football together, but it’ll be important that we spend a little extra time, whether it’s on the side when we can this summer or in training camp, we’ll make sure we put in the necessary time to make sure we’re on the same page.”
Part 1: Quarterbacks
Part 2: Running backs