GREEN BAY – Jared Abbrederis had one game to try to earn a roster spot. Now all he can do is wait and see if he succeeded.
Following the Packers’ 38-10 victory over New Orleans to conclude the preseason at Lambeau Field on Thursday night, Abbrederis isn’t the only one whose roster fate is undecided.
There’s more curiosity about him than some others, though, as a home-state product who battled a long injury road involving an ACL and concussion over the last 13 months just to appear in an NFL game for the first time.
“I’m pretty sore and all. I knew I’d play a lot because we had limited guys,” Abbrederis said after getting a ton of snaps on offense and returning three punts. “It’s been a long trip. It was fun to be out there. We’ll see what happens.”
The first time Abbrederis touched the ball as an NFL player, he made three Saints punt-cover guys miss tackles and weaved his way for 17 yards. He added returns of 10 and 8 yards later, and lost out on a couple of chances when the punts went out of bounds.
"He's very natural. He doesn't flinch," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's got quickness. He has good vision. Just from what I saw on the replays, it looked like his reads were correct. It was good to get him those opportunities."
He did fumble on one return, which the Saints recovered, but the turnover was nullified by a New Orleans penalty. It wasn’t a good moment, but it was the only noticeable miscue in his first game action since his final college bowl game on Jan. 1, 2014.
“Obviously, I’d like that one back,” he said. “I haven’t played a game in a while. It took a little bit to get used to, but once I got rolling, it was just like old times.”
At receiver, he caught just one pass for 6 yards, and he wasn’t open on three other throws in his direction. Anyone in his position would want to have produced more, but now comes the waiting game, with the roster being reduced to 53 players by 3 p.m. CT on Saturday.
“I don’t really think about that,” he said. “There’s nothing you can really do. You just run the routes that you’re told, and at the end of the day, whatever happens, happens. I’m not really worried about it.”
Veteran punter Tim Masthay can perhaps rest easier after his best outing of the preseason. Solid in practice but inconsistent in the previous two games, Masthay looked more like his old self with productive averages (43.0 gross, 42.8 net) on four punts.
Masthay’s second punt was partially blocked, but he didn’t let it shake him. He later boomed a 52-yarder and then pooched one out of bounds at the New Orleans 8-yard line. Given his in-game struggles, Masthay mentally put himself in a better place heading into the regular season.
“Yes, I absolutely did,” he said. “That’s the thing I’m most satisfied about. I feel like I got back to a couple of my key fundamentals and mentally focused on those. I felt good the whole game, locked in the whole game, and was able to control the ball like I expected to. I feel good about how I finished.”
Other roster spots were in all likelihood locked up by receivers Myles White and Jeff Janis. White (four catches, 46 yards) caught two fourth-down TD passes from Brett Hundley, while Janis (two catches, 21 yards) scored on a 14-yard slant for his fifth preseason TD in two summers.
On defense, outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott appeared to solidify his place, sans the five-sack preseason he enjoyed last year as a rookie. Credited with four tackles – one he chased down from behind on a run to the other side – he also broke up a pass over the middle and got a pressure and hit on the quarterback on third down to force another incompletion.
“It’s kind of offending when you try to put a fullback on me to block me, so I tried to do my best to get to the quarterback,” Elliott said with a small smile.
“I wanted to go out there and show I could stop the run. I think I did a great job setting the edge, forcing the run back, made a couple of tackles. It was fun.”
The final decisions at running back got more intriguing after all three reserve candidates piled up some statistics.
Rajion Neal (20 yards rushing, 20 receiving), Alonzo Harris (41 yards rushing) and John Crockett (42 yards rushing, including a 15-yard TD, plus 49 receiving) all made their bids.
“I’m just hoping for the best,” said Neal, who was the frontrunner coming into Thursday night and played first. “Those guys have demonstrated grit, toughness, blocking ability, definitely being a runner. It’s going to be interesting to see how everything turns out.
“It’s just hard to really say. At the end of the day, I feel good with things I did and what I left out there. But, is it enough? Only time will tell.”
Watch: Abbrederis 1-on-1
Watch: Coach McCarthy’s postgame press conference
Read: Game Recap- Young players score win for the future