For the second time in roughly a week, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers gave an endorsement to a pair of undrafted rookie wide receivers, Tyrone Walker and Myles White.
The first such comments came from Rodgers on the final day of media availability during the team's offseason program last Tuesday.
Referencing the pair of rookies the Packers selected in the seventh round of this past April's draft, Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey––both of whom have missed the overwhelming majority of the team's offseason practices––Rodgers gave his unsolicited thoughts (as far as not being asked about any one particular player) on Walker and White.
"The young receivers, it's frustrating, I know, for them to be injured," said Rodgers. "But you've got to give credit to the guys who have been out there and have been playing. I think you've seen some good plays from Myles and Tyrone. I think they've stepped up and (they're) getting their opportunities.
"But it's going to be wide open once you get to training camp. We usually keep five receivers, and I think the top three are pretty set in stone, and there's a lot of guys fighting for those other two spots. It should be interesting to see who comes out in training camp."
The second instance of Rodgers' seal of approval came during an exclusive interview the quarterback granted ESPNMilwaukee.com, published on Monday.
Rodgers offered in-depth commentary:
I think two guys who have benefitted maybe the most from this spring are (undrafted rookie wide receivers) Myles White and Tyrone Walker. I think both those guys have made a lot of plays for us. And with our two seventh-round picks at wide receiver (Kevin Dorsey and Charles Johnson) missing most of the OTAs, those guys have stepped up and done some great things. Tyrone reminds me of Antonio Chatman, who not many people know I actually played with. But Deuce had very similar size and agility but he was a good route runner, very good in and out of his breaks. And I see that with Walker. I think he has very good hands, he’s a good route runner and I think he has a chance to be a good player in this league. Myles is very shifty, he has very good releases, and mentally, he’s getting closer. He has a strong hunger to be good in this league and he’s very self-motivated, and that’s very important. Those guys benefit from an incredible position coach in Edgar Bennett, who harps on them about fundamentals and details and he’s got three of the best examples of what it looks like every day in that room in Cobby, Jones and Nelson. I tell those young guys all the time, “Watch the older guy in your group and see how he does things. That’s what I did when I was a young player. Watch the older guy in your group, and pick out the things that he does well that you don’t do yet and try to incorporate those in your game. And look at the things that maybe you don’t like or you don’t understand and question those and figure out why they’re doing them. And then either incorporate that in your game or do it a little differently.” But when you’ve got really good examples like Myles and Tyrone do in their room, there’s no reason they shouldn’t make big leaps this fall and have a chance to make the team.
Whether the depth chart at wide receiver is starting to take shape remains to be seen. Without question, it's the coaches' decision who will receive playing time and who won't, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have the confidence of the person who's in charge of distributing the football in the Packers offense.
White was reportedly signed by the Packers immediately after the NFL Draft concluded. He's a product of Louisiana Tech, listed as 6-0 and 182 lbs., and had 56 receptions for 718 yards and six touchdowns his senior season in which Tech led the nation in total offense, scoring offense and was third in the nation in passing offense.
Before enrolling at Louisiana Tech for his final two years of eligibility, White began his college career at Michigan State where he got into a large brawl with several other football players and eventually pled guilty to misdemeanor assault. After that, he transfered to Northwest Mississippi Community College for one year.
Meanwhile, Walker was signed to the Packers roster as one of five players who took part in the team's post-draft rookie orientation camp back in May.
Listed at 5-10, 191 lbs., Walker ended his career as Illinois State’s all-time leader in receptions (250), receiving yards (3,565), receiving touchdowns (32) and 100-yard receiving games (16).
Following Walker's senior season, he earned first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors in after leading the conference in receptions (90), receiving yards (1,319) and touchdown receptions (nine). Walker was a college teammate of quarterback Matt Brown, who was also signed by the Packers.
What Rodgers' comments might mean for Johnson and Dorsey are open to interpretation. While neither took part in offseason practice to any significant extent, missing training camp––when pads come on––would hinder their development far more.
It's been head coach Mike McCarthy's policy not to comment on any player's injury status during the voluntary workout portion of the offseason, so the type and extent of ailments to Johnson and Dorsey have gone unreported.
If both are able to return in time for the start of training camp on July 26 and be full participants, it's likely they will have not fallen far behind the curve.
For a team that's lost both Greg Jennings and Donald Driver this offseason, however, the depth at wide receiver is a position worth watching. Considering Jermichael Finley and James Jones are both scheduled to become free agents after the current season, the depth has the potential to be tested even further in the future.
Brian Carriveau is the author of "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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