Young Receivers Will Be Held To High Standard

Some of the stars featured in Sports Illustrated's "The Perfect Pack" have left but the standards remain the same. Receivers coach Edgar Bennett isn't going to lower the bar, and he'll lean on Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson to show the young receivers the right way of doing things.

One by one, popular Green Bay Packers receivers are vanishing, like the McFly sibling photo in the movie "Back to the Future."

First, it was all-time franchise leader Donald Driver, retiring after the 2012 season.

Then it was Greg Jennings bolting to Minnesota via free agency.

And this offseason, it was James Jones signing a deal with the Oakland Raiders.

Counting Jermichael Finley, whose NFL future has yet to be determined as he continues his comeback from a serious neck injury, two-thirds of the receiving group dubbed "The Perfect Pack" on a Nov. 7, 2011, Sports Illustrated cover are gone. Only Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb remain in quarterback Aaron Rodgers' stable from that seemingly unstoppable group.

Such can be the fleeting way of life in the NFL.

"It's so weird just to think how much it's changed over the three years that I've been here going into my fourth year," said Cobb, who is the second-longest tenured receiver on the team. "But that's part of the business. It's a revolving door and you've got to take on a new challenge every year and we've got a challenge in bringing in these new guys and getting them up to speed and trying to help them as much as I can and do all the things I can for them."

The group featured by Sports Illustrated in 2011 help set the lofty standards for which Packers receivers are held. From internal competitions involving dropped passes to blocking downfield to yards after the catch becoming the norm, not a bonus, the bar was raised to match the level of play from their MVP quarterback.

That the Packers are undergoing a transformation of sorts in their wide receiver meeting room this offseason — they added three receivers in the draft (general manager Ted Thompson had never used three picks on the same position in any of his 10 drafts in Green Bay) — will not do anything to lower the expectations.

"When guys come into that room — and the guys that are (already) in that room they understand that — that's a big part of being here in Green Bay and playing the position that they play here in Green Bay," said receivers coach Edgar Bennett. "A lot is asked and that comes with the territory."

If there will be any stress bringing the young wide receivers up to speed with the offense and the Packers ways, Bennett is hardly showing it at the first set of OTAs this week. Instead, he seems to be embracing it.

"It's great. It's fun. And they're great guys," said Bennett of rookies Davante Adams (second round), Jared Abbrederis (fifth round) and Jeff Janis (seventh round). "They're hard workers, attention-to-detail young men. So, I'm excited and they're excited. And then, you know, it always comes down to making the most of the opportunities so we're excited about that. All of those guys are certainly putting the time and the effort into it and you see some of the results starting to show out on the field. So, we've got to continue to improve on a daily basis."

The challenges might be eased by who the Packers have returning. Jarrett Boykin's play in 2013 gives the Packers reason to believe they have a legitimate threat as a third receiver. Cobb has always played like a veteran and is an impact player from various spots in the offense. And Nelson, turning 29 on Saturday, is in the prime of his career and the perfect model for how the position should be played.

"When we turn our tape on, it's a clear illustration of how it's supposed to look the right way, doing it the right way," said Bennett. "(Jordy's) an example of that. When we put our young guys in there, from a visual standpoint as well as just a general standpoint as far as when we say ‘being a pro, being a true professional at your job,' he's a great example of that.

"You have a conversation with them and explain the expectations, the standard, you walk them through it. You're trying to take the gray out of it. ‘Here are our expectations, these are our standards, this is how we practice, how we prepare.' Just kind of walk them through the different examples. I think all of those guys understand that coming into the situation."

The Packers have 10 receivers on the OTA roster. The other four not previously mentioned — Alex Gillett, Kevin Dorsey, Chris Harper and Myles White — spent some time with the Packers last year and are at least familiar with the standard. Gillett was on the practice squad. Dorsey is a 2013 seventh-round pick who spent last season on injured reserve. Harper, acquired on waivers in 2013, was active for four games but played just two offensive snaps. And White, who finished the season on injured reserve, played in seven games with nine catches.

"We're going to have a competitive environment but we're also going to have a team environment," said Cobb. "Us as a whole is the most important thing. Whatever I can do for those guys to help them — talking to them after their routes or any questions they have for me I'm willing to answer."

Added Rodgers of the receivers: "There's going to be a lot of competition and I would think some strong consideration about keeping an extra guy there as opposed to years past."


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Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com


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