Myles White was greeted with a slew of high-fives, hugs and pats on the back as he jogged to the Green Bay Packers’ sideline. His teammates and coaches were congratulating him on his second touchdown of the night — a 3-yard grab that put Green Bay ahead of the Saints 31-10 en route to a 38-10 victory.
They may as well have been giving the third-year receiver kudos on making the Packers’ roster. While the next day-and-a-half promises to be a nerve-wracking, white-knuckle affair for many on the back end of the depth chart, White can have some measure of calm after a four-catch, 46-yard, two-score performance that should have locked up the team’s No. 5 receiver job — if he hadn’t already done so.
“This is probably the worst part of the year,” said White of the impending Saturday cutdown from 75 to 53 players. “You never know what’s going on upstairs. So you just try to find something to do to relax and pass the time until you figure out what’s going to happen next. But I feel like production-wise I had a very productive preseason and feel a lot better going into it, but you never know. This is your football future at stake, so of course you’re going to think about it. But I’m just going to try to get on some ‘Madden’ or do something so I can pass the time.”
White, undrafted out of Louisiana Tech in 2013 and in his third go-round in Green Bay, led all Packers receivers this summer with 16 catches for 157 yards. A week ago in a loss to Philadelphia, White made a tough one-handed catch with a defender draped over him on third down to keep the chains moving. Coach Mike McCarthy complimented him as a player that’s busted his butt.
Jordy Nelson’s season-ending injury in Pittsburgh may have cracked open the door for White to make the team, but he’s kicked that door wide open with a level of play that’s steadily improved since the start of training camp and put him in position to be on the final 53.
“Just overall confidence and knowledge of the offense,” White said when asked to compare the 2015 version of himself to last year and the year before. “The more confident and knowledgeable you can be in the offense, the faster you can play. I think I’m playing at a fast level and my routes are very crisp this year just because I have an understanding of the time frame and the time clock with the quarterback.”
His coach agreed. After the Saints game, McCarthy was asked again about White. Once more, he doled out praise for a player with just nine catches on his resume and whose career arc includes two tours on the practice squad, two months on the active roster in 2013 and a trip to injured reserve.
“He’s been right in the middle of everything,” McCarthy said. “Every time we’ve challenged him – in the weight room, he’s responded; special teams, he’s responded. I haven’t watched the tape yet but it looks like he’s put together two good games.”
White was targeted just twice through three quarters of play, but in the fourth quarter rookie quarterback Brett Hundley re-established the chemistry he had with White six days prior. After driving Green Bay to the Saints’ 2-yard line, Hundley got the green light to go for it on fourth down. White took off past New Orleans cornerback Kyle Wilson at the line and was wide open on the left side of the end zone for an easy touchdown.
After a three-and-out by New Orleans, Hundley found White on a short pass. White used an extra gear to burst up the Packers’ sideline for 36 yards. On third-and-goal from the 3, White was flagged for offensive pass interference on a pick play. The penalty was declined, but rather than kick, Green Bay stayed aggressive with another fourth-down play. This time, White lined up wide right and made a quick move back to the ball for his second score of the night – and Hundley’s fourth touchdown toss.
“He’s a great receiver, great route runner,” Hundley said. “We’re both still young but, at the same time, the sky’s the limit for him. He’s going to be a great receiver in this offense. … I’m sure Aaron (Rodgers) will use him very well.”
White smiled when asked if he could have that same type of chemistry with Rodgers.
“Everybody’s trying to get on Aaron’s page,” he said.
He stopped short of saying he’s about to find out. But he’ll know for sure on Saturday.
W. Keith Roerdink has covered the Packers since 1992. E-mail him at email@example.com.