John Crockett couldn’t believe his ears.
Or his good fortune.
Just hours before kickoff on Thursday night at Detroit, Crockett was notified that he was being promoted from the practice squad and would be making his NFL debut.
“When you get the call,” Crockett said on Tuesday, “it’s like, ‘Right now? Seriously? All right. I guess we’ve got to get it.’ It was definitely one of those moments that I dreamed about. When it came, it came so fast that I couldn’t overthink it. That was the best thing. It just happened.”
The only reason why Crockett was in Detroit was because he had been selected the scout team player of the week. But then Eddie Lacy and Alonzo Harris missed curfew. The Packers demoted Lacy, released Harris and shocked Crockett.
Crockett responded by rushing for 22 yards — most among the Packers’ ball-carriers — on five attempts.
Additional opportunities could be on the horizon, so long as Crockett keeps doing what he’s been doing on the practice field.
“It’s right in front of him,” coach Mike McCarthy said, using the same words he used when asked about Lacy. “He’s doing a good job. He got a good opportunity up in Detroit and went the wrong way on a run and still had a hell of a run. He brings a lot of excitement. I’m really happy for John, the opportunity he’s been given, but he’s going to have to compete to get up on the active roster. What’s nice about coming off a break is you now have a pretty healthy team so the competition for 46 will be very competitive this week.”
Fullback John Kuhn, who has seen countless players come and go during his career, offered some simple advice for Crockett.
“Keep that same fight and desire that you had in the last game going forward through the rest of the season,” he said.
Given Lacy’s wildly up-and-down season and Starks’ two fumbles against the Lions, the Packers’ backfield situation is as unsettled as it’s been since 2012, when DuJuan Harris went from the practice squad to the No. 1 runner for the playoffs in the span of a month. While it's unlikely that Crockett will rise that far up the depth chart, his quick burst and fresh legs could provide a nice complement to Lacy and Starks.
“Me, as a player, I don’t go into it saying, ‘OK, I gotta do this to get this guy. I gotta do this to get this guy,’” Crockett said. “I just go and focus on my own personal game. If they feel like I’m able to contribute in that aspect and that’s what they need — if that’s what they want, that’s what they get. At the end of the day, these are two great backs and we’re all out here for the greater good of the team. That’s all that matters.”
Crockett arrived in Green Bay as one of the prized players in its undrafted class. He was part of three consecutive FCS national championships at North Dakota State, with his three-year total of 5,151 all-purpose yards including 1,994 rushing yards and 425 receiving yards as a senior. An ankle injury sustained late in minicamp, however, lingered into the start of training camp. By the time he was back in his groove, it was too late, as the Packers went with fellow undrafted rookie Harris to be the No. 3 back.
Crockett’s disappointment was short-lived. With an engaging personality and gung-ho attitude, he happily accepted the Packers’ practice-squad overtures and kept pressing toward a goal that he knew would come eventually.
Just not a few hours before kickoff.
“You’re playing on an NFL football team and you’re playing for the Green Bay Packers, so you can’t really have too many downs about that,” he said. “No matter what your position is on the team, you still can wear that ‘G.’ To wear that ‘G,’ you have to wear it with so much pride.”
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.
Seriously, Packers Rookie RB John Crockett Has Opportunity
John Crockett couldn’t believe his ears.