With this year's version of the Rookie Symposium about to get underway at IMG Academies Bradenton, Fla. on June 28 and 29, count second-year Packers tight end Andrew Quarless as one player who didn't mince words when it came to discussing the usefulness of the event.
During Donald Driver's annual charity softball game on June 5, Quarless––virtually unprompted––replied to a question about meeting his rookie teammates, "I think they’ve got it good. They didn’t have to go to the Rookie Symposium and sit in hour meetings."
At the time of Quarless' comments, it had recently been announced that the NFL would be cancelling the Rookie Symposium to begin June 26 at the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Oh. due to the NFL lockout.
The NFL Players Association had since announced that their version, titled "The Business of Football: Rookie Edition" would be held this week in place of the Rookie Symposium so this year's draft class didn't miss the opportunity to attend the orientation event.
The event is intended to be educational and inform players about topics such as life skills, personal finance and post-football careers as they're about to enter the NFL. According to Bill Huber of Packer Report, all ten Packers draft choices are expected to attend.
Quarless, though, didn't get much out of it.
"The only thing I can say that’s good about the Rookie Symposium is it’s in San Diego, and it’s beautiful out there," said Quarless, referring to where the Sympsium was held last year. "That’s about it."
Two Packers scheduled to attend this week's Business of Football: Rookie Edition are tight ends expected to compete with Quarless for playing time this upcoming season.
Perhaps unexpectedly, the Packers selected fifth-round draft choice D.J. Williams of Arkansas and seventh-round draft choice Ryan Taylor of North Carolina at a position they already have a lot of depth, including the highly-touted Jermichael Finley and Tom Crabtree.
Despite the influx of tight ends, Quarless appeared unconcerned about challenge new players might have on his job security.
"I love competition," said Quarless. "I’m all for competition. I think the tight end is a position that’s very used in our offense, so I think the more depth, the more people we have that do different things, it makes us a better team."
As a first-year player whose playing time increased when Finley went down with a season ending knee injury Week 5, Quarless had a combined 26 receptions between the regular season and the playoffs for 284 yards and one touchdown in 2010.
While indifferent about competition, Quarless did express concern about the impact the NFL lockout would have on the spike in development players typically see between their first and second years in the NFL.
"It’s definitely going to affect me going into this year," said Quarless. "I really was more concerned about getting my hands on that playbook.
"When the lockout was off for a day, and I was able to speak to Coach (Ben McAdoo), he was ready to give me the playbook, and then the next day I couldn’t speak to him. I was anxious to get my hands on that playbook. That’s really what I’m concerned about."
Regardless of the lockout, Quarless is focusing on what he can control this offseason, and that's working out and preparing for the upcoming season as best he can.
With the evidence that Quarless was inactive for the first two regular season games of the 2010 season, the sophomore tight end said he perhaps wasn't ready for primetime––at least to begin with last year.
"I think last year I came in and I might have been a little sluggish," said Quarless. "I think I could have been in much better shape. So that’s just where my focus is. Whenever that phone rings and this thing is over, just be ready to go 110 percent."
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