The Green Bay Packers promoted receiver Geronimo Allison and defensive back Jermaine Whitehead to the active roster, the team announced on Monday.
Allison will take the place of receiver Jared Abbrederis, who was placed on injured reserve (thigh). Packer Report broke the news. Whitehead will take the place of safety Chris Banjo, a special-teams captain for last year's playoffs who was placed on injured reserve (hamstring). ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky broke that news.
Whitehead will help replace cornerback Damarious Randall, who will be be sidelined for at least four to six weeks following groin surgery. Whitehead is a safety but he played a lot in the slot during training camp and the preseason.
Allison, an undrafted rookie from Illinois, caught six passes (12 targets) for 119 yards in the preseason, including a long gain of 51 yards vs. San Francisco.
"He’s a big body. We haven’t had that type of body here, guys who have been able to use their body in that way,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said during training camp. “He does a good job with separation. He goes up and gets the ball. He’s made a number of great catches on back-shoulder fades on the goal line. He’s just got to keep on doing the little things. He’s got a great attitude. He’s got a nice approach to it. I think all of us have been impressed with him.”
At 6-foot-3 1/4, he will provide size to a receiver unit that has struggled to consistently make plays. He ran his 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine in 4.67 seconds. He cut that down to 4.56 at Illinois’ pro day a couple weeks later.
In two seasons with the Illini, he caught 106 passes for 1,480 yards (14.0 average) and eight touchdowns. Before his time at Illinois, he was junior-college teammates with running back Don Jackson at Iowa Western.
Allison said he shed some “tears of joy” upon agreeing to a contract with the Packers after the draft. Playing in the NFL has been a lifelong goal, a goal he made possible by overcoming long odds through hard work.
“It was always a childhood dream but I never knew how it was going to shake out,” he said upon signing in May. “I never knew how my journey was going to lay out. I’m thankful for it and I’m just going to embrace it.”
The elevation of Allison further signals that Ty Montgomery is more running back/wide receiver than wide receiver/running back. Montgomery has 20 receptions the past two weeks, most of them coming out of the backfield.
Beyond Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and Montgomery, the Packers’ other receivers haven’t produced. Jeff Janis has four catches (seven targets) for 23 yards, Abbrederis had one catch (two targets) for 8 yards and Trevor Davis has no catches (two targets).
Whitehead (5-11, 195) went undrafted out of Auburn last year. He spent most of his rookie season on the 49ers’ practice squad until he was signed to Baltimore’s active roster for the final two regular-season games. He showed a nose for the ball during the offseason practices and training camp, which should come as no surprise. During his senior season at Auburn, Whitehead intercepted six passes despite being suspended for four games for an altercation with a coach. At the 2015 Scouting Combine, Whitehead ran his 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds and posted a 37-inch vertical leap.
It's worth noting the Packers didn't make a move with running back Don Jackson. In his NFL debut on Thursday, he sustained an injured hand. After the game, he said X-rays did not show a break.
The Packers filled one of the practice-squad spots by signing receiver Dez Stewart. Stewart (6-0, 200) was an undrafted rookie out of Old Dominion who spent camp with Washington. In 43 games at ODU, he caught 196 passes for 3,197 yards (16.3 average) and 25 touchdowns. He ran in 4.43 with a 36-inch vertical at pro day.
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