New Position, Same Approach For Bennett

Assistant coach Edgar Bennett's major challenge: Curing the receivers' chronic case of the drops. To do so, he'll rely on the same mantra that served him so well while coaching the running backs.


That was Edgar Bennett's favorite catch phrase during a tremendously successful five-year run as the Green Bay Packers' running backs coach.

Why didn't his running backs fumble?


Why were his running backs so good in pass protection?


Why did James Starks have to wait and wait to get on the field last season?


So, what Will Bennett bring in his new role as receivers coach, and how will he cure the talented group's chronic case of the drops?

You guessed it.

"It's just fundamentals." Bennett said after Wednesday night's practice, just his fourth on-the-field session in a role he started back in February.

According to STATS, which keeps the NFL's official statistics, Donald Driver tied for seventh in the NFC with seven drops during the regular season. James Jones tied for 14th with six. Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings wound up with four apiece. It wasn't just the drops but the situations. Jones dropped five touchdown passes, if you include the playoffs. Nelson dropped three passes in the Super Bowl alone. Jennings' drop of a sure touchdown pass at Detroit turned into a momentum-turning interception.

"For the most part, it is concentration," Bennett said. "Sometimes, it's trying to run before you look the ball all the way in and taking your eye off the ball. In this business, you've got to focus on looking that ball all the way in."

Making this talented group reach its enormous potential is the major challenge that excites Bennett. He loves the team-first attitude brought by old pro like Driver and a star like Jennings. He loves the unit's study and work habits, and he loves how the established veterans take time out of their schedules to help youngsters like second-round pick Randall Cobb.

On the field, Bennett is using the same approach with the receivers as he did the running backs. You get what you emphasize.

"The more opportunities you get to catch the ball, the better," Bennett said. "It's like anything else, we're coming out here to build good habits. We do ball-skill drills every day and we start our period off every day with some form of catching the football. You'll see them, from sideline to sideline, doing certain drills: catching the ball away from their body, above, below. Just continue working on all those different catches that we'll see in the games. Any time you focus on the fundamentals and the techniques, I think we'll be fine."

Fundamentals have been a focus for Bennett, too. While there's some common ground for Jerry Fontenot, who moved from assistant offensive line coach to replace Bennett, the learning curve is steeper for Bennett. There are a myriad of things to learn, from how many steps in a route to the on-the-fly adjustments based on the defense.

To learn, he studied the playbook, which holds some of those answers, and met frequently with coach Mike McCarthy, offensive coordinator Joe Philbin and quarterbacks coach Tom Clements. He also sought advice from peers around the league.

Now, it's up to Bennett to get his points across to his players. Based on his history with the running backs, his receivers will do the little things at high levels.

"Any time you've got guys of the caliber that we have at this position, it's exciting to work with these guys," Bennett said. "It started in the meeting room and having a conversation with them, talking to them about our target areas, some of the things that we want to work on and get better on every day at practice. We come out here with a purpose, and that's to get better. I'm excited. There's nothing like stepping between those white lines and being a part of something special."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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