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Minicamp Over, It's a Whole New Ballgame When Pads Come on for Jared Abbrederis

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Minicamp Over, It's a Whole New Ballgame When Pads Come on for Jared Abbrederis

Packers wide receiver Jared Abbrederis by Brian Carriveau.

Packers wide receiver Jared Abbrederis by Brian Carriveau.

It's been a bit of a whirlwind for Jared Abbrederis ever since being selected by the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Draft.

Having played for the home state University of Wisconsin, his celebrity is bigger than most other rookies. But it goes beyond merely playing for the Badgers. 

This is a player that won three Big Ten titles, was a three-time all-conference honoree and played in the Rose Bowl, "The Grandaddy of Them All," on three occasions. This is a player that was the Burlsworth Award winner, given to the nation's most outstanding player that began his career as a walk on. This is a player that was invited to the Senior Bowl, the country's premier college all-star game.

Jared Abbrederis was a household name on fall Satursdays. And now the Packers hope the success he's experienced in college translates to the pros.

Having been in Green Bay a little over a month, Abbrederis had an opportunity to go through both Organized Team Activities and minicamp, but as of this past Thursday, his crash course in the team's offense is complete.

The Packers offseason progam is over, and from all indications, everything went smoothly, but Abbrederis knows this is just the beginning.

"It's been a good offseason so far, about a month or whatever," said Abbrederis at last week's minicamp. "It's been good. It's been fun to be out here just competing, and I'm excited to get to training camp and actually put on the pads and really start competing."

Credit Abbrederis, his head hasn't gotten too big.

Even though he's been drafted by the Packers, he knows the difference between being on the 90-man offseason roster and the 53-man roster that populates the regular season.

As a fifth-round selection, Abbederis' spot on the team isn't guaranteed.

"For me, it really hasn't set in because once camp comes, that's when you got to make the team," said Abberderis. "Ask me that after this year and hopefully I accomplish the goals that I want and I set for myself and after that, I'll look back on it. Right now, I still have to achieve that, so I'm excited to go do that."

Even though, Abbrederis' bid to make the roster has begun in earnest, for all intents and purposes, it really starts when training camp begins. Players report Friday July 25 and the first practice is on Saturday July 26.

The importance, the levity of training camp, isn't lost on rookies like Abbrederis. Head coach Mike McCarthy shared that message with his team before they broke minicamp ahead of a five-week layoff.

"We realize when you get back at training camp, it's a whole different tempo," said McCarthy. "You're competing for jobs. I told the team over and over again, mentally, we do not wait for anybody, so the commitment and the focus these past nine weeks was to get mentally ready for what's in front of us. The indication of where we are looks good, but as we all know, training camp's always different.

"When you put the pads on, the environment changes. The competition's heightened. The environment's electric.  Just the ability to practice in front of our fans, just the whole setup. It will be crystal clear who makes that step and who doesn't."

These next five weeks are about decompression. It's an opportunity for a player to rest his body before the grind of training camp and the regular season, but that's not to intimate Abbrederis is going to rest on his laurels. Strength and conditioning will take place. In his own words, he'll "fine tune some things."

Despite a résumé that boasts 202 career catches in college for 3,140 yards and 23 touchdowns, it all means very little in professional football.

The NFL Combine, back in February, highlighted what Abbrederis still needs to work on. Of the more than 350 players invited to the event, he had the fewest repetitions on the 225-pound bench press. The future Packers draft choice could only muster raising the bar four times.

Functional strength will be key for Abbrederis. Any player gets away with things in college they can't as pros.

If Abbrederis happens to be on the field for the season opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, there's a chance he'll get jammed at the line of scrimmage by a Richard Sherman or a Kam Chancellor. Even the strongest and savviest of veteran receivers have trouble getting a clean release against players of that caliber.

And if it's not a passing play being called, Abbrederis will be tasked with blocking for the NFL's defending Offensive Rookie of the Year in Eddie Lacy.

The NFL is a whole different animal. It's now a job, and training camp is designed to prepare Abbrederis for its rigors.

"Right now, obviously, you try to go as high-tempo as you can and for the most part you can, running routes, things like that, but it's going to be a little bit more physical once you put the pads on," said Abbrederis. "Running routes, they can put their hands on you a little bit more. Block, obviously. Right now you just try to get in front of your guy and do the best you can, but blocking obviously, that's something (different)."

All offseason, there was no threat of being tackled for Abbrederis. And that perhaps represents the biggest change.

Training camp will be more corporal, more laboring.

"Obviously you have pads on, so you can go a little harder," said Abbrederis. "It'll just be a lot more competitive."

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "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 carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (44) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Zola Davis's picture

So, what should we hope for? a) 5 or 6 show that they have the right stuff and make the team? Which 6? or b) All 10 get it in gear and we watch 4 play for other teams?

4thand1's picture

Whatever happens will happen exactly the way it should. Take the best and leave the rest.

DrealynWilliams's picture

You know what's crazy? After the draft I was hoping for Nelson/Cobb/Adams/Boykin/Abb & Janis. But after some of the comments I've read from Harper and going back to watch some of his film I'm now pulling for him to make the "5 or 6". Harper was asked about just making the team and he replied that he's coming for Nelson's spot. A starting spot. I looooooooved it!

Adams/Boykin/Harper are some big (physical) boys. We need these type of WRs against the more physical teams (mainly 49ers/Seahawks)

1. Nelson
2. Cobb
3. Boykin
4. Adams
5. Harper
6. Abb/Janis/I don't care about the rest

Stroh's picture

Don't go to sleep on Dorsey, last year's 7th rd pick. He had a big Jr season in college playing in the ACC. Then had a series of about 5 different QB's his Sr. season. While he was on the IR/PS last year he has a years head start on Abbrederis and Janis. I wouldn't be surprised if he takes the #6 spot and Abb and Janis are on the outside looking in.

While so many were touting Abbrederis after the draft as the best thing to happen to the Packers and calling him a lock to make the roster, I knew all along Abbrederis and Janis faced an uphill climb to make the roster. Simply put Abbrederis is wimp compared to NFL WR. Said it before and I'll say it again... Best thing that could happen for Abbrederis is to go on the PS for a year and get bigger and stronger. He lacks explosiveness, strength and elusiveness. I mean 4 reps at 225, barely a 30 in vertical and less than 10 ft on the broad jump show and astonishing lack of strength and explosiveness!

DrealynWilliams's picture

Big Jr year??? Those standards must be pretty low. I won't bother posting the stats...

Stroh's picture

Ok, so maybe only good... Either way at least he's not a wimp and has good athleticism. 4 times the bench reps of Abbrederis, strong 40 time, above average explosiveness. He's got the physical tools to play in the NFL, Abbrederis doesn't.

jmac34's picture

Dorsey has shown about as much as Abby, Janis, and Harper at this point. Jerry Rice was not the most athletic guy, but he was smart and a great route runner (and no I am not comparing the two). Athleticism is great and all but it is not the only way to be successful.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Let's just say that season was decent. I can list so many RBs with those same or better receiving stats.

But dude,just come out and let us all know why you really dislike (or maybe hate) Abbrederis. It seems like you really go the extra mile to prove he's not NFL worthy. Why is that? I'm just curious.

Yes we know Abb isn't the fastest.
Yes we know Abb isn't the strongest.
Yes we know Abb isn't the most athletic.

Okay?

jmac34's picture

I honestly don't get the Dorsey hype either. I was way more intrigued with Charles Johnson than I ever have been with him.

Stroh's picture

Saying not to sleep on him is NOT hype! Just stating that he has good/very good athleticism and was productive. Clearly the Packers saw something in him if he was chosen just a couple picks after Johnson. If he had good QB play he would have had a much better Sr season and been drafted higher. Maryland ended up starting a LB at QB the last few games of his Sr season.

Stroh's picture

I don't dislike him, but I don't see him as anything more than he is either. A try hard guy that over-achieved to succeed in college, but lacks the physical ability to be anything more than a fringe NFL player. I don't give him any hype simply cuz he's a Wisconsin kid.

His best NFL position is backup slot WR. If he's a starter or Top 3 on any team, they'll be looking to upgrade very quickly.

I hope I'm wrong and will gladly admit it if he goes on to be a productive NFL WR.

jmac34's picture

I would think that abbrederis has a bit of a leg up on his competition just based on his special teams abilities as a KR/PR.

MarkinMadison's picture

I don't know that he is viable as KR. I hate to agree with beer breath, but Abby really does need a season in the weight room, if he is willing to do the work in the weight room. Otherwise, I'm afraid he is going to get killed at the NFL level.

jmac34's picture

Not sure how much strength has to do with KR. I wouldn't say Desmond Howard or Randall Cobb were the strongest guys on the roster.

Stroh's picture

Howard is too long ago, but your probably right he wasn't especially strong. What he was, that Abbrederis is not, was exceptionally elusive. BTW how did Howards career as a WR turn out? Abject failure would be a justifiable answer don't you think?

Cobb was 4x's stronger than Abbrederis, so I guess that qualifies as a drastic difference.

Abbrederis' strength is astonishingly bad, along w/ not being fast or elusive.

Stroh's picture

Howard is too long ago, but your probably right he wasn't especially strong. What he was, that Abbrederis is not, was exceptionally elusive. BTW how did Howards career as a WR turn out? Abject failure would be a justifiable answer don't you think?

Cobb was 4x's stronger than Abbrederis, so I guess that qualifies as a drastic difference.

Abbrederis' strength is astonishingly bad, along w/ not being fast or elusive.

JimTaylor31's picture

My concern also. When you look at the OTA photos of Abby standing next to Adams, Harper, Jordy etc. there is just a very stark contrast in difference in overall body and muscle development. I just can't see him lasting very long without some serious weight training and adding some muscle bulk. His both upper and lower body need some work.

4thand1's picture

Stroh, Wayne Gretzky was probably the weakest guy in the NHL.

Stroh's picture

Wayne Gretzky was a hockey prodigy. Gretzky was always 3 steps ahead mentally from everyone else on the ice. Your not saying anything like that about Abbrederis are you?!

COW's picture

Injuries usually make what seem to be difficult decisions easy.

Hopefully whoever makes the roster... Janis, Harper, Dorsey, Abby... will only have to be depended on to play special teams.

Denver's picture

Abby may need a year, but I will be shocked if he doesn't end up having a decent career. I have watched more college football than I can remember and rarely have I seen a kid get open more than him.
Love the kid....

Stroh's picture

Maybe you'll be right, but IMO he over-achieved to succeed in college. I just don't see him being able to step up to the next level and succeed. Career backup at best IMO.

4thand1's picture

In any event he made it in college because he worked his ass off. I'll take a guy who'll give 100% all the time with some production. He gets open so he must have good instincts. Some guys can't be taught that.

RC Packer Fan's picture

He gets open because he is an excellent route runner. Watch his tape. He runs very precise routes.

What is one of Rodgers favorite attributes in WR's. Great route running. He likes to know where a receiver is.

I'm not saying he is going to come in and have 1200 yards his rookie year. I can see him coming in and being mostly a special teams player (PR) his rookie year. I'm not putting high expectations on him.
But i do expect him to make the roster.

Stroh's picture

He has to get off the LOS before he can run his route. He's going to have trouble getting off press coverage cuz he's basically a weakling. Spend a year on the PS and we'll see, but right now I don't see it. Besides in the NFL all receivers know they have to run precise routes.

Some have further to go than others but sloppy route running won't cut it in the NFL. By year 2 they pretty much all run precise routes...

Clay Zombo's picture

Your obsession with his lack of bench press strength is amusing Stroh but the truth is its not the be all end all of defeating press coverage. Keep repeating it though, because we didn't get it the first 5 times you mentioned it.

PackerBacker's picture

Forget his bench then. Look at a picture of him next to all of the other WR's. He's stick thin. No muscle mass at all. Even he admits he needs to increase his functional strength. And the truth is that if you want to beat Richard Sherman off the line, you need some strength to go along with precise routes.

Evan's picture

If Richard Sherman is covering Abbrederis in week 1 or at any time the next 2-3 seasons, something has gone horribly wrong for the Packers.

JimTaylor31's picture

That is a true statement Evan. Until Abbrederis gets more muscle mass I'm afraid he might invoke memories of the Crash Test Dummies. Not the rock band but the two guys who used to get hammered in the car commercials.

Stroh's picture

Actually if the Packers can get Abbrederis on Sherman its a win for the Packers. Sherman plays one spot and doesn't take the best WR everywhere. He stick only at outside CB on one side and one side only. If the Packers get Abbrederis and Sherman locked on him, they have Nelson and Cobb against lesser CB. That's a win for the Packers...

Sherman is great, but its WAY too easy for teams to move their best WR to a position where Sherman won't be on them. Its one reason I don't consider him the best CB in the NFL. He just doesn't get forced to cover the opponents best WR every down.

JimTaylor31's picture

I think we might be over-thinking this a bit.

Evan's picture

ha!

I was just making a joke about injuries to the WR corps...but yeah.

Big Moe's picture

Or Stroh is completely wrong about Abby, and Sherman is guarding him because he's earned it.

Stroh's picture

LOL, not likely! Good sense of humor tho, I like it.

Evan's picture

I'd love to know Donald Driver's combine numbers.

RC Packer Fan's picture

I tried finding them for you. but couldn't. I don't think he actually was invited to the combine if I remember right.

Evan's picture

Yeah, I couldn't find anything either. He has a CBS bio page, but no numbers listed.

At 6', 188lbs, I can't imagine they were all that much better than Abbrederis' (not that Abbrederis is the second coming of Driver).

Big Moe's picture

Right or Don Bebe, Steve Tasker, Mark Duper, Wes Welker, just some mildly successful little guys off the top of my head.

Clay Zombo's picture

100% agree with you RC. The guy is a former high school QB which helps him know what a QB expects from his WR. He does run precise routes and understands the use of angles and space to set up a DB which minimizes the need for great speed and quickness.

The guy can always get stronger and he should in time but strength is not really a requirement to be good at defeating press or blocking for that matter. Blocking is more about leverage, tenacity and positioning and if you seen him play, you know he can block. Getting off press has more to do with timing and hand usage than strength or quickness.

You can throw out every measurable you like to support your position Stroh but its the intangibles, the things you can't measure like heart and determination, fearlessness and football intelligence that matter the most in being a good football player.

He may never be a number 1 WR but I can see him being a 50-60 catch guy in this offense. Maybe not as a rookie and maybe not if hes a full time PR but I do see him being a productive football player sooner than later.

RC Packer Fan's picture

His route running is his best attribute, IMO. He just knows how to get open. Being a former QB really does wonders for WR's. He is a very smart WR. He knows how to set up DB's and get them in bad positions to get open. Those are the types of WR's that coaches and QB's love.

Watch him in the Ohio State game, he tore apart Roby and the Ohio State defense. He constantly got open. And even when Roby got up on him in press coverage and played physical with him, he was able to win the battles. One of the catches that he made still impresses me. Going against Roby he fended him off with one hand and Jared caught it with the other hand, broke the tackle and ran in for a TD.

I agree with you Clay. That he could definitely be a 50-60 catch guy. He won't be a #1. But they don't need him to be. He just needs to be a 3-4 type of WR. Thats what James Jones was and he was productive.

Does he need to work on some stuff, yeah. But I am happy he is a Packer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Szwx3JoMQik

COW's picture

"...he could definitely be a 50-60 catch guy. "

If you're talking career stats, I'm with ya.

RC Packer Fan's picture

lol...

i actually had to laugh at that COW. That was funny.

Jordan's picture

The Packers drafted Abbrederis in the 5th round to be a backup wide receiver. Why is that so difficult to grasp and so controversial? I'm not sure if I've ever seen a late fifth round pick get this much attention from the media. The media must have figured out that he increases ad revenue with the hit count since he's a former badger.

MarkinMadison's picture

He's going to get a lot more coverage for the simple fact that everyone is more familiar with him. Everyone in Wisconsin has watched him play for the Badgers for years. Everyone knows his strengths (cough) and weaknesses (cough, cough). Everyone has an opinion about him. We'll find out in two years who was right and who was wrong. But I don't know about anyone being drafted "just to be a backup." It's hard to be a Jarrett Bush in the NFL. A perennial back-up at a position that is not exactly an uncommon body type? Yeah. I don't want to be that guy.

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