Well training camps have already begun for the Bears and the Vikes and Packers players report today. Football is almost here! One of the most exciting battles in this year’s training camp is the battle for tight end. That position was left wide open with the injury to Jermichael Finley and heated up when the Packers drafted Richard Rodgers and signed undrafted Colt Lyerla.
Last season, Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick (until injured), Ryan Taylor, and Jake Stoneburner were tasked with replacing Jermichael and while they did not become a liability there was certainly a loss in terms of the tight ends ability to challenge down the middle of the field.
Quarless, the starter has had injury issues and is average at best in the blocking schemes, and his inline blocking in particular has been criticized. He had his moments and showed chemistry with Matt Flynn in particular in the absence of Aaron Rodgers but thus far the biggest storyline of Quarless’ career has been the knee injury that kept him out of all of the 2012 season. In his defense, his is fairly good in space and has shown the ability to be a red zone threat.
Taylor and Stoneburner have work to do and Brandon Bostick has weight to lose, that opens the door for the challengers.
The Packers drafted Richard Rodgers in the 3rd round basically because he catches everything that is thrown at him. The Packers invest in players who don’t drop the ball even if they are not the fastest players on the field. One of the negatives of Jermichael Finley was that while he had the physical skills to stretch the field, he did tend to drop balls. Rodgers may be a weapon for moving the chains on third and long and could also become a threat in the red zone. Look for him to challenge for significant playing time.
Colt Lyerla has been aptly called the “wild card” of this mix of players. Undrafted but signed by the Packers, Colt would have been a high draft pick if he had not had off the field issues and left the team last October. The Packers have had success in the past with players with troubled pasts and appear to be ready to give this guy a shot. Here is why they signed him:
Lyerla’s only knock is his past…and training camp is not about the past, it is about the future. This guy may be a capable starter.
The tight end competition is definitely going to be one of the must see battles of this year’s training camp. I have to think that with the offseason acquisitions, the Packers are looking to make a change from Quarless who, in my mind, is a second string tight end at best. Bostick has the speed but has to get his weight under control. I look for these two young rookies Rodgers and Lyerla to make waves in this year’s training camp. Is a changing of the guard in the works? Only time will tell but an upgrade at the tight end position could be a significant weapon for Aaron Rodgers and a significant challenge for opponents. Training Camp begins tomorrow!