GREEN BAY – He took a big hit over the middle and popped right up to signal first down. He also was Aaron Rodgers’ target on a key third-down snap.
Second-year receiver Jared Abbrederis made his most significant plays since mid-November in Sunday’s victory in Oakland, and that makes the local product and fan favorite worth watching down the stretch for the Packers in 2015.
“It’s good to keep building confidence in myself, and the coaches in me, things like that,” Abbrederis said after Sunday’s game. “There’s a lot of things I can keep getting better at, some things I could have improved on. We’ll have to take a look at the film and see.”
Abbrederis caught all three passes thrown his way for 33 yards against the Raiders. Afterward, Rodgers said he needs to be on the field more. Most important, Abbrederis left Oakland healthy, a positive sign given what happened five games ago.
Against Detroit back in Week 10, Abbrederis made not just his first NFL reception, but four of them for 57 yards in a fourth-quarter comeback that fell short. He took a wallop along the sideline on his last catch, though, and suddenly he was out for two more games just when he thought he was getting going.
It was an addition to the list of injuries the young receiver already had dealt with. A torn ACL cost him his rookie season last year. A concussion on the first day of training camp kept him out most of the preseason this year, forcing him to start the season on the practice squad before being signed to the active roster a month in.
Credit the Wautoma, Wis., native and former Wisconsin Badgers star for his perseverance.
“It’s no surprise he’s having the success he’s having when he enters the game, because you see it every day in practice,” Offensive Coordinator Edgar Bennett said.
Already earning a reputation as a reliable route-runner, Abbrederis showed it on Sunday when Rodgers zipped a 15-yard pass to him on a crossing pattern. He took a shot from Oakland safety Charles Woodson, but held on, hopped up and pumped his arm forward to move the chains.
“You just have to make a play on the ball and hang onto it,” Abbrederis said. “You know you’re going to take a hit. You have to get the reception, because that’s what counts.”
So does a third-down conversion, which Abbrederis executed in the third quarter. On a key third-and-5 from Green Bay’s own 10-yard line with the Packers protecting a scant four-point lead, Rodgers rolled right and locked in on Abbrederis early, firing low toward the sideline. Abbrederis secured the sliding catch to keep the drive alive, and the Packers eventually marched 92 yards for an important field goal.
“Obviously he expects you to get open, so you just have to do your part,” Abbrederis said of being trusted by Rodgers in that spot. “I had some good plays and some plays I want back where I feel like I could get open more.”
That’s all Abbrederis was focused on after Sunday’s game, reviewing his performance and improving.
All indications are those next steps will come given Abbrederis’ work ethic that got him this far in the first place.
“It feels good to be part of the team a little bit,” he said. “Going through last year when you’re on IR all year, it’s tough when you’re not contributing. But to be a part of the team and feel like you make some impact, it feels good.
“It’s all about the win. Honestly, I don’t really care whether it’s make a catch or go run block, whatever it is. If we’re winning, I’m happy. That’s honestly what it is. I’m happy to be out there, make plays when I can and try to do my job.”