An injury opened the door for Justin Perillo’s promotion to the active roster.
But this wasn’t an opportunity that was handed to Perillo. Rather, it was one that he had earned.
“Justin’s a guy that’s got some experience in this offense,” tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot said on Thursday. “I think that, no matter what we ask him to do, Justin’s going to do a good job. His development is such that I’m really grateful that he’s got the opportunity because he deserves it. He’s worked very hard to get raised back up to the 53. His run blocking, his pass protection and his route-running have all gotten better this season.”
Perillo was promoted from the practice squad on Wednesday to take the spot of safety Sean Richardson, whose neck injury has thrown his career into jeopardy. Perillo should be a contributor immediately, where the Packers have lost key contributors on special teams (Richardson) and at tight end (Andrew Quarless) due to injuries.
“Justin is very familiar with our offense,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “I look at Justin as a two-year player and now he gets his opportunity for Sunday. Just steady, smart, instinctive, can play all the positions. He’s a good athlete. He’s definitely a valuable guy because he can play all the positions on special teams, all the positions at tight end.”
For Perillo, it’s a similar path to the roster as in 2014. Last year, as an undrafted free agent from Maine, Perillo had a solid training camp but failed to make the final roster. He spent the first nine weeks on the practice squad before being promoted to the 53-man roster. This year, Perillo was the leader for the No. 3 tight end spot until a concussion sent him to the sideline for about two weeks. He returned for the final two preseason games but lost out to Quarless and sixth-round pick Kennard Backman for the roster spots behind Rodgers.
“It was disappointing for a little bit because you ultimately want to make the 53, but I was happy that I was signed back to the practice squad because it’s such a great organization,” Perillo said. “And the same thing happened to me last year. Last year I was on the practice squad and I got bumped up. It wasn’t really any hard feelings. I was happy that I was still here.”
On Wednesday, Perillo made the move that all practice-squad players dream about: the move from the auxiliary locker room into the main locker room. With Backman playing a total of six snaps this season, it’s conceivable that Perillo will vault from the practice squad to the No. 2 role ahead of the talented but inexperienced rookie.
“It feels great. It’s definitely really exciting to get the call up,” Perillo said.
“I’ve just got to go do my same day-to-day routines and keep on working hard and just see what happens.”
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.