For Justin Perillo, his first two training camps have ended in bitter disappointment.
The Green Bay Packers deemed him good enough for the practice squad but not good enough for the Week 1 roster. Based on what he’s done this summer, Perillo’s quest seems destined to have a much different ending.
Perillo continued his strong training camp with an impressive showing in Friday night’s preseason victory over the Cleveland Browns. Perillo caught a game-high five passes for 52 yards. The performance shouldn’t come as a surprise. Perillo has delivered day after day on Ray Nitschke Field – no different than he did in his first two training camps and no different than he did last year against Detroit, when he caught five passes for 58 yards in the failed comeback at Lambeau Field.
“I definitely think last year I gained some confidence,” said Perillo, who was promoted from the practice squad to play in two games as a rookie and nine games last season. “I was able to get out there and play and make some catches and make some plays. That definitely helped me out confidence-wise.”
After Jared Cook and Richard Rodgers played the first two series vs. Cleveland, Perillo came out of the gate with an 18-yard catch to open the third series. On the next possession, he had a 9-yard catch for a first down. On the touchdown drive to end the first half, Perillo had a pair of 5-yard catches sandwiching a third-and-7 conversion of 15 yards.
At a shade less than 6-foot-3, Perillo doesn’t have great height. With a 4.76-second clocking in the 40-yard dash at Maine’s pro day in 2014, he doesn’t have great speed. Perillo, however, plays beyond the measureables. Some guys have a knack for playing. Perillo seems to be one of those guys.
“It’s just reading defenses and the quarterbacks,” Perillo said. “Just finding holes and the quarterbacks are making great throws.”
With three preseason games to go, Perillo appears to be the clear front-runner for the No. 3 spot behind Cook and Rodgers. Kennard Backman, a sixth-round pick last year, hasn’t caught the ball consistently enough. Mitchell Henry has been sidelined for most of camp due to injury. Casey Pierce, an undrafted free agent out of Kent State last year who was signed after trying out at the rookie camp in May, hasn’t made a move.
“I’m taking it one day at a time and see what happens,” Perillo said.
Tight ends coach Brian Angelichio appreciates that approach.
“Justin is a guy that just works,” he said on Wednesday. “He works hard. He’s pretty solid in everything. He’s reliable, which is important for any player. You’re reliable, you’re dependable, your teammates can count on you, you’re gonna know your assignment, you’re going to be in the right spot. Usually guys that do that and work hard, the ball can find them and good things will happen.”
Good things are happening and, if Perillo stays the course, will happen again when the final roster cuts are made on Sept. 3.
“It’d be awesome,” he said. “This is a great organization. I love everything about this city, the fans, the teammates. Just everything about it is great.”
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.