Packers Training Camp Countdown: 27 Days

Every day until the start of camp on July 26, we'll provide one juicy nugget to whet your appetite for the return of football. We'd give you more but the CBA forbids two-a-days. Sorry. Jarrett Boykin has all 27 receiving yards among the team's receivers beyond Cobb, Jones and Nelson.

Here is the evolution of the Green Bay Packers' wide receiver corps, boiled down to one statistical comparison.

Last season, No. 5 receiver Donald Driver had 10,137 career receiving yards.

This season, projected No. 4 receiver Jarrett Boykin has 27 career receiving yards.

The drop-off following the "Big Three" of Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jordy Nelson is about as severe as what tightrope walker Nik Wallenda faced when he walked across the Grand Canyon last weekend. Of the other eight receivers on the roster, Boykin has all five catches and all 27 yards. Jeremy Ross, with eight career snaps on offense, is the only other receiver to have any kind of NFL experience.

Thus, Boykin not only is the front-runner to be the fourth receiver but is in position to have a key role on offense. In 2012, the fourth-leading wide receiver, Greg Jennings, had 36 catches. In 2011, Cobb had 25 grabs. In 2010, Nelson had 45 catches. In fact, the Packers' fourth-leading wide receiver hasn't had fewer than 20 receptions since 2006.


TRAINING CAMP COUNTDOWN


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29 DAYS: 29 points per game not good enough

28 DAYS: Packers dominate FA era

"He's a big man, physical, fundamentally sound, student of the game," receivers coach Edgar Bennett said. "He has a tremendous opportunity. I'm excited for him."

Boykin was an afterthought at this time last year. Despite leaving Virginia Tech as the school's all-time leader in receptions (184) and receiving yards (2,884), Boykin went undrafted due in large part to his 4.62 clocking in the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine. He was signed by Jacksonville after the draft but didn't survive past the Jaguars' rookie camp.

He was invited to the Packers' rookie camp on a tryout basis and earned a contract, then beat out Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel after making a late push at training camp with a team-high 13 catches in the preseason. In the regular season, he played in 10 games and caught 5-of-6 passes thrown his way.

"You saw the ability to create some separation, you saw by way of his footwork, by way of his quickness, by way of being physical with his hands to get off of press and things like that," Bennett said. "You start to see it showing up more and more, and it's something we'll continue to emphasize. That kid can play."

"I think he is an attention-to-detail type of player," Bennett added. "He's fundamentally sound. I think he continues to get better, and it starts in the classroom environment, and he takes that onto the field. You see him getting better with his fundamentals. Boykin's the type of kid that you can explain certain things to him as far as what you want and what you're looking for from a technique standpoint and he's able to take that right out on the field. I like the progress he's made."

The last of Boykin's catches last season was a 7-yard reception while being mugged on a fourth-and-1 play during the Packers' furious comeback at Minnesota. He injured his ankle on that play and missed the two playoff games. Boykin was held out of the final couple weeks of offseason practices with an undisclosed injury.

"It's disheartening because you're just out there watching," Boykin said. "You want to go out there and participate and take part in some of the reps. Overall, you want to get better. You have to take the mental reps."

Boykin, Ross and seventh-round picks Kevin Dorsey and Charles Johnson are the front-runners for the two or three spots behind the "Big Three." Undrafted rookie Myles White has put himself in position to contend, as well.

Boykin didn't worry about the odds and names and numbers last year, and he's not going to worry this summer, either.

"Honestly, I'm not sure what's the plan," he said. "I can't sit around and count numbers. You have to keep working and everything will take care of itself."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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