There wasn’t much that made Aaron Rodgers happy after the Green Bay Packers’ victory over the Oakland Raiders in Week 15.
The play of receiver Jared Abbrederis was one of the few.
“He needs to be on the field more,” Rodgers declared after Abbrederis caught three passes for 33 yards in that game.
It was a strong statement from the two-time MVP quarterback. At that point, Abbrederis had caught eight passes in his injury-plagued career. Rodgers didn’t exactly get his wish, though. Abbrederis dropped a pass early the next week at Arizona and barely played until the game was out of hand. The next week, the regular-season finale vs. Minnesota, Abbrederis didn’t play a single snap on offense.
Now, Rodgers is going to get his wish. With Davante Adams likely to miss Saturday night’s playoff game at Arizona, Abbrederis figures to play — a lot — as the Packers try to find enough offense to knock off the Cardinals.
“Oh, yeah, it means a lot,” Abbrederis said of Rodgers’ support on Tuesday. “Obviously, you’ve got to prove it every day. Trust, it’s hard to earn but it’s so easy to lose that trust. So, you have to make sure every day you’re doing the right stuff, make the plays when they come your way, just keep being consistent. That’s the biggest thing with him.”
Abbrederis dropped his first pass against the Redskins but caught two of the other three for 14 yards. That doesn’t include a two-point play in which he beat Redskins cornerback Will Blackmon so badly that Blackmon had given up on the play before the ball had hit Abbrederis’ hands.
“That two-point play was something that was practiced,” coach Mike McCarthy said on Tuesday. “It’s nice when you get the defense and the mechanics of the protection and he just ran a great route. He’s doing a lot of good things.”
McCarthy might not simply swap out Adams for Abbrederis in the game plan. Jeff Janis likely will see some playing time on offense, too, and the Packers could use more two-back or two-tight end sets. Nonetheless, it’s clear that Abbrederis is the next man up at receiver. Against the Redskins, Abbrederis played 28 snaps while Janis played only four.
“Whenever you get your opportunities, you’ve got to take advantage of it,” Abbrederis said of the possibility of earning extended playing time. “That’s how it’s been all year. Whenever you get in there, just take advantage of it. It’s the playoffs. We’ve got to go get a win. That’s the main thing in my head right now.”
While this will be Abbrederis’ first time squarely under the playoff spotlight, he’s hardly new to the big stage. He played in bowl games throughout his career at Wisconsin, including his 346 total yards in the Rose Bowl to cap his sophomore season. He played in key Big Ten games, as well, including his 10-catch destruction of Ohio State star Bradley Roby as a senior.
So, nothing will change this week from his perspective. Abbrederis will count on his preparation, instincts and route-running skills against the Cardinals.
“All year, I’ve been preparing like that, so whenever I get my opportunity, just be ready to go,” he said. “However big your role may be — big or small — you’ve got to be able to do how much you’re supposed to do, step up, and make it so there’s no drop-off.”
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.