Backman, Perillo Duking it out for Third-String Tight end job

Below Jared Cook and Richard Rodgers, Justin Perillo and Kennard Backman trade blows in their efforts to rise on the depth chart. 

The solidified starting duo at tight end for the Packers is no surprise. It'll either be Jared Cook or Richard Rodgers, and that's a given. Cook's first-string gig isn't guaranteed just because he was the team's lone big-name free agent signing this past offseason, just like Rodgers' role as a backup isn't set in stone because of average play outside of the red zone in 2015.

History shows that the Packers typically go into a season with four tight ends on the roster, much like they've done each of the last five years. If anything, this showcases hope for those playing second-fiddle at a skill position such as Justin Perillo and Kennard Backman. Unfortunately for those two, the Packers also haven't gone into a season following a sloppy campaign from their wide receivers. This might call for an extra receiver as opposed to the usual five they typically carry into the regular season. To summarize: don't get your hopes up on four tight ends.

This leaves no room for error for Perillo, an undrafted free agent who ventured on the trek to Green Bay in 2014 but received seesawing playing time the year after. Perillo is about as sure-handed as sure-handed gets, reeling in 11 of his 13 targets from Aaron Rodgers in 2015 - a catch rate of 84.6%. If anything, he's providing Rodgers with a subtle security blanket that most quarterbacks wouldn't mind having at their disposal.

Packers offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett has praised Perillo for his ability to create separation and having soft hands, as displayed by his ability to catch seemingly every football that's placed within his orbit. Perillo's been given more opportunities to shine through his first week of training camp in Cook's absence.

Oh, yeah. His first week of training camp wasn't that bad either and reportedly miles ahead of his competition, Backman. 

Backman has shown off the speed that most big guys at his position would kill for in today's game with a 4.6 40-yard dash. Undersized, however, at 6'3" and pushing 245 pounds, Backman's hopes to make the Packers' final roster cuts are diminishing.

The sixth-round draft choice in the 2015 NFL Draft has turned in a mediocre camp performance thus far and continues to descend in the eyes of spectators and coaches alike. Even more so at an alarming rate with each drop in camp. 

Entering his second year, head coach Mike McCarthy is expecting him to provide more of a presence whether in the offense or on special teams where Backman played 37 of his 48 total snaps in 2015.

"I think Kennard is one of those guys you look for to make that jump," McCarthy said of Backman back in March. "Real raw his first year. Willing. Good kid. I look for him to make an impact on special teams. He really started to figure that out during the second half of the season."

Something that Backman does bring to the table that Perillo doesn't, however, is an unbridaled, obscene playing style.

Almost like a scene out of the most recent rendition of The Longest Yard, Backman wasn't exactly fond of a certain player in a Florida Atlantic uniform in a game that took place during Backman's senior year at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. As a result, Backman targeted him along the sideline and sent him across the UAB bench with a bone-crushing hit followed by the driving, physical force of his legs moving in a clockwork fashion to drive his target further into the depths of the Blazers' sideline. 

That kind of force may be as critical as it would be ideal for the Packers when it comes to the run-blocking game. An aspect which Backman feels he's most effective in.

The five upcoming exhibition games will give the Packers more leverage in deciding the number three tight end spot. But at the moment, Perillo has a hefty advantage over his competition, and that includes in the aforementioned blocking game as well, where even Perillo has shown signs of inconsistency. 

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (20)

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 04, 2016 at 07:34 am

I don't believe that Backman has the slightest notion how to run block Good athlete, completely raw. Guy should have been a UDFA, not a 6th rounder. To quote his scouting report:

NFL.com: "Upright route runner too easily stymied by contact off snap. Gets no separation out of his rounded breaks. Radar is severely lacking as run blocker. Leaner who will miss or slide off of intended target. Doesn't work into proper position to seal and needs to have tackle help in pass protection."

CBS: "Lacks preferred size at 6-3, 243 pounds and can be too easily redirected off the snap. Lacks the strength to hold up consistently as an inline blocker."

Perillo can run block adequately, can run routes well, can catch the ball almost everytime its tossed his way. Perillo was better last year. Henry was better, too. One guy is a draft pick; the others aren't. Backman should not have made the 53 last year. Backman did make a nice catch yesterday: unless he has greatly improved his overall game, he should not be on the 53 this year.

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marpag1's picture

August 04, 2016 at 09:10 am

I was going to say, "Backman, Schmackman" ... but I suppose your comment is good enough.

Interesting to see that MM ain't exactly setting the bar too high when he says, "I look for him to make an impact ON SPECIAL TEAMS."

Yeehah.

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NickPerry's picture

August 07, 2016 at 06:48 am

Didn't McCarthy say the same thing about Bostick?

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croatpackfan's picture

August 04, 2016 at 07:36 am

Interesting information Zachary. But where is the position of Mitchell Henry in that battle? He is there, to.

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ZacharyJacobson's picture

August 04, 2016 at 08:13 am

Henry's done about as much as Backman, if not less, thus far in camp, which isn't a lot. Unless Henry surges and makes some headlines in the preseason and shows why he deserves a roster spot, the battle will likely be between just 80/86.

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croatpackfan's picture

August 04, 2016 at 11:45 am

Thank you!

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 04, 2016 at 07:57 am

I am looking forward to seeing Backman this preseason. Last year I remember 2 plays in which he showed off great hands. 1 play he got rocked on and the ball never moved from his outstretched hands.

I am looking forward to seeing if he is going to make that year 1 to year 2 jump.

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egbertsouse's picture

August 04, 2016 at 10:49 am

So old Bert Farve is sticking it to us Packer fans one last time. His locker should also contain a pair of Crocs and a cell phone with a photo of his junk. Great player but low-life trash..

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chaka's picture

August 04, 2016 at 11:18 am

Packers should reach out to former TE Colt Lyerla if they want a real NFL TE. He runs a 4.2 40 and is far better than any TE on their roster.

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Ken Kirby's picture

August 04, 2016 at 04:45 pm

Colt Lyerla? He was intriguing a couple of years ago, but is there any sign that he has even made an attempt to return to football?

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staffordsneckfat's picture

August 04, 2016 at 11:46 am

The way the 2015 team caught the football I think they should probably stick with the guy with a proven track record, even if he does appear to be in worse shape than my ex-wife. His arms look like year old summer sausage, its called a bicep curl Justin...

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DrealynWilliams's picture

August 04, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Why is it so hard to find a TE that could just.....block. Like, that's all he's good for. Where are those guys?

Although Perillo looks nothing like an athlete I prefer a "try hard" guy over the other options for the #3 TE spot. Could be our Tom Crabtree 2.0?

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 04, 2016 at 01:07 pm

'Why is it so hard to find a TE that could just.....block. Like, that's all he's good for. Where are those guys?'

Those guys are playing OL in the NFL.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

August 04, 2016 at 01:43 pm

Damn.

Well, 1 WR, 1RB, 2 TEs and an extra OL can work. Might even be able to motion Cook out with the 1 WR. I don't know. I'm just freestyling.

I just want a TE that can run block :(

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 04, 2016 at 01:59 pm

Honestly, i know we have some really good weapons, but I wouldn't mind seeing them mixing it up and using an extra OL every now and then. Not just in short yardage or goal line situations.

Bring back the U71 package...

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DrealynWilliams's picture

August 04, 2016 at 02:54 pm

I'm with you on that.

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NickPerry's picture

August 05, 2016 at 06:03 am

I think it's more Thompson doesn't draft them or he's always looking for cheaper UDFA. Most teams seem to find them and Ted doesn't normally even try. I like the Davis pick for example but what about Hemmingway from So. Carolina this past draft, lasted until the 6th. Or in the 3rd could have had the best Blocking/Receiving TE in the draft, Nick Vannett but then we lose Fackrell. This is what happens when you DON'T use Free Agency except once every "Blue Moon", you just can't get it ALL done with the draft.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 05, 2016 at 10:29 am

Yeah, a lot of the top tiered TE's usually are better all around.

The TE your talking about is Jerrel Adams, and I would have loved to have drafted him, especially in the 6th round.

You can't draft everything in one draft. But that is partly why they went out and signed Cook this year.

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NickPerry's picture

August 06, 2016 at 05:16 am

You're right RC, it was Adams and not Hemmingway. Another kid i would have liked to see signed as an UDFA was Ben Braunecker who ended up the the Bears.

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al bundy's picture

August 04, 2016 at 03:43 pm

That size and speed , made a full back out of him. He can pass block or run it. Oh thsts too inventive and we all know mike isnot inventive: lacy left lacy right pass

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