Packers mulling decision on Colt Lyerla

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The biggest surprise of rookie orientation camp was the Green Bay Packers' decision to bring in troubled former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla for a two-day tryout.

Now, it might be an even bigger surprise if they did not sign him.

The Packers were leaning that way following the conclusion of camp on Saturday, but general manager Ted Thompson was still mulling it, according to a person familiar with the process who said Thompson planned to sleep on it.

"We did a lot of work on Colt," Thompson said Saturday. "He's a very talented athlete. We interviewed him at the combine. We went through all those procedures, talked to a lot of people. He's a young man that made some mistakes, and we feel like he was worth bringing in and taking a look at."

The 6-foot-3, 242-pound Lyerla left the Ducks' program early in his junior season last year and then ran into legal problems when he was arrested for cocaine possession and trying to run from the police.

He was not available to reporters at the rookie camp but during his interview session at the combine, he said he believed he had turned his life around.

If Lyerla were being judged on production plus his testing at the combine, he might have been one of the first tight ends selected. He averaged 16.8 yards per catch during his first two seasons at Oregon and caught 11 touchdown passes. At the combine, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.61 seconds, just 1/100th of a second slower than North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, who was the 10th pick in the draft. Lyerla's vertical jump of 39 inches was four inches higher than the next-best tight end.

"You weigh it all," Thompson said. "And every case is an individual case. We have always believed that, or I have always believed that there are certain things that people can atone for, acknowledge their mistakes and get on with their lives. And I am a proponent of those kind of people that try to do that. And that’s where we’re at with Colt."

The Packers have 88 players on their roster, which means they have room for just two more players. But if there are more than two among the 28 that were in on a tryout basis that they like, then they could create more room by releasing players currently under contract.