When Jared Abbrederis’ phone rang toward the end of a round of golf with Jeff Janis on Saturday, he had a hunch that his brief bid for a spot on the Green Bay Packers’ roster had ended.
“I kind of thought maybe it would happen in my head,” Abbrederis said on Thursday. “I wasn’t like, ‘Hey, I’m not getting cut,’ so I wasn’t surprised, I guess. At least I kind of had a thought. Obviously, it’s hard when you miss all that time. You don’t have any film to make them keep you, really.”
After missing all but two practices in training camp and playing in only one preseason game, Abbrederis was a realist. While the news ruined his final couple holes on the golf course, the disappointment was short-lived. The Packers told him they wanted to sign him to the practice squad. After a torn ACL sustained during the first week of training camp as a rookie last year and a concussion on the first day of training camp this year, practice is what Abbrederis needs.
“That’s big,” he said. “Obviously, last year, I had the mental side of it with getting all the plays and things like that. This year being on the field, it obviously helps out a lot just getting back out there and kind of using some of the things I learned last year and trying to put them to good work out here on the practice field. I don’t even know how many actual practices I’ve had. It’s good to finally be out there again.”
Abbrederis turned heads during his abbreviated training camp last year. He didn’t get that chance this year because of a concussion that kept him out of the first three preseason games and 15 consecutive practices. In his only opportunity under the lights, he caught one pass for 6 yards and averaged 11.7 yards while cleanly fielding all four punts against the Saints.
“You know what, I was impressed with him,” special teams coordinator Ron Zook said. “Of course, I got a little history with Abbrederis from playing against him when he was at Wisconsin and I was at Illinois. I remember talking to Bret (Bielema, the Badgers’ coach at the time) before the game, and I said, ‘Where’d you get No. 4?’ He said, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s a walk-on. He was a quarterback.’ I said, ‘Whaaat?’ because he’s got just a knack. He’s got a lot of God-given ability. I was glad for him. Poor guy’s had a bunch of injuries to overcome.”
That the Packers are keeping Abbrederis despite two significant injuries speaks to his potential.
“Absolutely,” quarterbacks/receivers coach Alex Van Pelt said when asked if Abbrederis is good enough to play in the NFL. “I think we all feel that way about him.”
The NFL is a next-man-up business. That makes Abbrederis one injury away from potentially being promoted to the Packers’ 53-man roster.
That, however, is not Abbrederis’ focus. After missing so many practices over the past 13 months, he wants to make the most of every rep on the practice field.
“You’ve always got to be prepared (but) that’s not the mentality I have,” he said. “I’m just trying to get better each day and whatever happens, happens. We still get some reps with Aaron (Rodgers), so it’s good to have that. You just do your best and you keep improving. That’s the biggest thing. On the practice squad, you give good looks because you want the best for the team. In that, you’re just working on your own craft and trying to get better and you’re going against some of the best guys in the league. It’s a great way to get better.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.