GREEN BAY – Jared Abbrederis will accept the praise graciously, but he knows it’ll mean more if it’s still coming his way later this summer.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy was rather complimentary of Abbrederis, the Packers’ third-year receiver, on the final day of the offseason program Thursday. He called his route-running “exemplary” and rated other details in his game “exceptional.”
But it’s still the offseason. As the players embark on a five-week break before returning in late July, Abbrederis isn’t focused on any evaluations of him now. Training camp will be when it matters.
“Once training camp comes, you have to be ready to go,” Abbrederis said following Thursday’s final minicamp practice, one day before he departs on the annual Tailgate Tour across his home state. “This is all about getting the kinks out, knocking the rust off, making sure you know all the plays.”
Abbrederis’ heightened anticipation of training camp is understandable, because the Wisconsin native and fan favorite has essentially never participated in one.
As a rookie fifth-round draft pick in 2014, he tore an ACL in the first week and landed on injured reserve. After a full year of rehab, he then sustained a concussion in the first camp practice of 2015, missing everything but the last practice before the final preseason game.
Looking at the Packers’ depth at wide receiver when everyone is healthy – Abbrederis is one of six players with significant game experience, while Trevor Davis was added in the draft – any more rotten injury luck can’t be afforded.
Abbrederis will need this summer’s five preseason games to show where he stacks up in a loaded competition, and those are opportunities he’s looking forward to after playing in only one preseason game his first two years.
“In practice, you’re competing, but there’s nothing like a game where you’re getting tackled,” he said. “That’s where you get to show what you can do when the ball’s in your hands.
“When the spotlight is on you is when you have to make the plays.”
Abbrederis did that in the postseason last January when pressed into action due to injuries at receiver. He caught a two-point conversion pass at Washington and then moved the chains on each of his four receptions in Arizona.
With the extensive playing time, he said it made a difference to get into the rhythm of a game, as opposed to going in and out for a play or series. He had nine catches for 111 yards in 10 regular-season games and then approached those totals (6-69, plus the two-point play) in just two postseason contests.
“Given the opportunity to go perform, especially at a level like that, and a time like that in a playoff game, it’s going to do nothing but give you confidence,” wide receivers coach Luke Getsy said. “He has to build off of that now.”
Getsy also used the words “heady” and “natural” to describe Abbrederis, who is trying to build his body into the 195-pound range for the upcoming season. Having missed two games in the middle of last year due to a big hit on a sideline catch, he needs to get stronger and more durable.
If he can do that, he’s got plenty of other tools. The Packers’ coaches saw them on display all spring long.
“He plays the position technically and fundamentally at a very high level,” McCarthy said.
Added Getsy: “I don’t think anybody questions his toughness. He’s a smaller guy, but his heart’s big.”