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Cory's Corner: Aaron Rodgers' best receiving weapons

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Cory's Corner: Aaron Rodgers' best receiving weapons

The Packers’ training camp starts on Monday. There are plenty of questions before they head to the practice field.

But there is one certainty: This will be the best crew of pass catchers Aaron Rodgers has ever had.

The combination of Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Martellus Bennett and Ty Montgomery is downright scary for every level of the opposing defense. The only question with the passing game is to make sure that Rodgers stays upright.

The general rule is that it takes two years to recover from knee surgery and this will be Nelson’s second year. He played good last season by averaging 79 yards a game with five games over 100 yards and he closed out the regular season with five touchdowns in the last four games. What’s also great about the 32-year-old Nelson is that he showed how well he could play out of the slot. Because of his versatility and excellent hands, he will remain a top 10 NFL wideout.

Adams was an interesting case study last year. He had his breakout season in his third year as a pro with 997 yards and 12 touchdowns. The 24-year-old showed off his amazing athletic ability from the Week 1 diving snare at Jacksonville to the Week 7 back shoulder grab vs. Chicago. His main warts were his four drops but he has tremendous upside and he’s also in a contract year, which always helps.

Cobb is the toughest one of the group to forecast. His production and health waned. He only averaged 47 yards a game last year and tallied eight games under 50 yards. With Nelson taking some of his slot snaps, Cobb will have a hard time getting bounce back production. Cobb will turn 27 in camp and is a free agent in 2019. This might as well be a contract year because Cobb needs to prove how he fits on this roster after this season.

Bennett is the guy that will keep the defense honest. Double the outside if you want, but he will carve up the middle. He was tied for second among all tight ends with seven touchdowns but the most interesting stat is his durability. Six of his nine seasons he played all 16 games. And let’s not forget that he was used sparingly during his first four seasons in Dallas, making him appear less than his listed 30-year-old age.

And Montgomery will be the team’s full-time featured back this season after transitioning from receiver. The 24-year-old will be a tough one for defenses to figure out. Will coach Mike McCarthy split him out wide and use him as a pseudo receiver on long pass downs? Since the Packers’ offensive line was No. 1 in blocking the screen pass last year, look for Montgomery to do his best Ahman Green impression this year.

That’s a stable full of weapons. Add in Rodgers’ ability to extend the play and you’ve got an impossible task trying to stop these guys. The only shot that defenses might have is trying to get to Rodgers with pressure.

Otherwise, I really don’t see teams being able to defend this group. 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (35) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Rossonero's picture

I agree that the offense will be potent. There should also be some 2 TE sets with Lance Kendricks. What will be most interesting will be which rookie RB emerges, if Trevor Davis takes a step and can Geronimo Allison build off what he did last year?

Other questions include, can Jahri Evans step in and play well? Can Corey Linsley stay healthy?

However, it's the defense that really has me wondering the most.

EddieLeeIvory's picture

Good stuff Corey but a question: Have u ever seen a Rams game? Lance Kendricks is a fine TE, very talented.
He's a mismatch for most LBers.

He will make some big plays for the Pack this year. He's a significant upgrade from the lumbering Rich Rod.

dobber's picture

Agree 100%. I've been saying for awhile that I think Lance Kendricks will give the Packers more big plays than Martellus Bennett this season. He's an athletic freak and I think he has the potential to explode with #12 throwing to him.

Tundraboy's picture

.

cheesycowboy's picture

I was wondering the same thing. With MM using more two tight end sets, that takes Cobb off the field I would think.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

MM saying we need to find ways to get the ball into Cobb's hands more and MM saying we need to run the ball more are interchangeable irrelevancies.

The TKstinator's picture

I expect the pass protection to be solid (at the least) and that 12 will have plenty of options. It will be fun to see how MM utilizes his many personnel groups. GB should really be able to exploit defensive weaknesses this year!

Nick Perry's picture

I'll be really curious to see some of the changes McCarthy makes to his offense this season. I was thinking just how different the Packers offense can be compared to the start of the 2016 season.

Last year they had a TE who really hadn't lived up to potential with other teams and another who wasn't the most athletic. They had counted on a RB who had basically eaten himself out of being effective or at least anywhere close to as effective as he had been at one point. They had their #1 WR coming back from an ACL injury, their #2 coming back from several nagging injuries the year before and questions about what happened to him, and a #3 WR who some were actually wanting to cut before he even took a regular season snap in his 3rd season.

This year EVERYTHING seems much different, at least in my eyes. This year we have 2 uber-athletic TE who can actually block AND catch the ball and Rodgers who really does have great hands. They have a RB who's more athletic and brings more versatility to the position than any RB they've had 10 or 12 years. And they have a 3 headed monster at WR most teams can only dream about. People sometimes complain (myself included) McCarthy becomes to predictable. This year the Packers offense should be EVERYTHING but predictable.

Savage57's picture

Fans look forward to that every season, but MM"s MO is to be ultra-conservative and call a lot of run into the back of the blocker plays.

AR's creativity and virtuoso escapability creates a lot of productivity and vibe for the offense. It's not McCarthy, who truth be told, is one of the most uncreative and predictable play callers in the game today.

I'm looking forward to another 10-11 win season with a defense that shits the bed again when it matters leading to an early exit.

Tundraboy's picture

Same here NP. No reason not to get off to a good start. I'm looking forward to them coming out of the gate on fire.

packfan44's picture

We haven't had one offical practice yet and you are on your negative ways... please stay tuned so you can appolgize in February. Your attitude SUCKS! I'll be looking for your stellar comments throughout the season.....

Jersey Al's picture

One would hope, but MM often goes back to his favorite plays a bit too much. he has improved in that area last 2 years, though.

Since '61's picture

If the Packers offense stays healthy they should be deadly for opposing defenses. The OL will be the key of course but with so many weapons they should be assisted by keeping the defense off balance with various formations and having TEs who can actually block. This offense will be stopped only when they stop themselves. As usual we'll need to hold our breath when the defense takes the field. Maybe the defense will make enough stops for Rodgers to stay ahead of them. Our best defense will be our offense once again. Thanks, Since '61

cheesehead1's picture

IMO, it all comes down to the D. We need a marked improvement this season. Let's wait and see how our new additions on D contribute. I'm cautiously optimistic.

stockholder's picture

Something is still missing. I don't see the difference makers. I see an approach to finding the HOLES and Moving the chains. Fact: TT gave A-Rod/MM more support. (He doesn't have to go it alone. ) First impressions are one thing. Getting the Wrs to step up could be another. Fact: MM gave A-Rod credit for drawing up plays. But the direction of the team and approach still comes down to "Catching the Ball". If these guys drop balls like in the past. This offense won't be the terror you all predict. They have to be clutch. Nelson is Slower and not a deep threat. Cobb's separation is questionable. Adams depends on YAC. (He has the worse hands of the 3. ) Monty is a RB. None have the razzle dazzle needed for a difference maker. (The Quick EXPLOSION! ) So that leaves some new WRs. Can they just get open? The west coast offense depends on Catching the ball. Time management and keeping the holes open depends on running. I'm sure all these guys HELP the Team Win. But are they weapons enough, (AS YOU SUGGEST), to win a super-bowl ? Stop A-rod and you'll stop the offense. They better Block! Come crunch time , the bugs show up. Every year they run out of Gas. I understand that new players produce electricity. I just don't want to see a Rocky Mountain High. Stay Focused and sets goals. This team is it's own worse enemy. Team's #! Goal ; Don't drop and fumble balls!

chugwater's picture

"I don't see the difference makers."

The top two TD scoring receivers IN THE LEAGUE from last season are on the roster in Nelson and Adams. Cobb is in the prime of his career. On top of that we added Bennett and Kendricks who are above average tight ends. Surrounding AR with above average offensive talent is all you need to win the Super Bowl. It's the defense that needs shoring up.

stockholder's picture

Not talking about defense here. Talking about difference makers this year. Let's Compare to Atlanta . Because thats who were going to face again. Atlanta has a big advantage. Speed, Running and they are blowing out everyone. Yes we have a good offense. But we have more question marks than the falcons. Your assuming that Nelson and Adams can repeat their stats. I'm saying that the window is closing on Nelson and Cobb. And I'm saying that Adams must catch and stay in the line-up. But who has the speed of Julio Jones. Their Rbs are not ROOKIES. Your assuming to much. I saying catch and don't FUMBLE>

dobber's picture

"I'm saying that the window is closing on Nelson and Cobb."

Cobb's only 26 years old...

chugwater's picture

You essentially say Jordy will have a big drop off, Cobb is declining at 26 years of age, and Adams is not an ascending player completely dismissing his solid year in 2016.

And I'm the one assuming too much?

dobber's picture

I tend to agree: the "DIFFERENCE MAKER" is #12, and he plays the most important position on the field. Unless you unearth skill position talent in the draft year after year after year that emerges as contributors in the first or second year (so you get big production on rookie contracts), the cap prevents teams from easily amassing more than a couple difference makers.

Since '61's picture

Stockholder - the Packers offense is usually in the top 10 if not the top 5 in the league in terms of scoring points, yards gained, first downs etc. nearly every season since MM has been the Packers HC. To achieve that the Packers or any team needs solid play from their OL, WRs who catch the ball and excellent QB play. If we look at 2016 the Packers attempted 614 passes and Packer receivers dropped 15 of them or 2.4 % of the total # of passes attempted. Also of the 6 teams in the league which attempted over 600 passes in 2016 the Packers had the fewest number of drops. Point is that the Packers do catch and they don't fumble. So I think we're Ok with respect to Packer receivers catching the passes. With the TEs the Packers now have defenses are going to need to decide between covering the middle of the field and going 1 on 1 on the boundary or doubling the boundary and exposing the middle of the field so I think we'll see Jordy have another great season. Monty out of the backfield just adds to the defense's concerns. The Packers may not have a game breaker but their receivers present a five headed monster on every down. As for ball security the Packers are usually among the league leaders in fewest number of turnovers by the offense. In 2016 they were 6th best in the league in turnover differential at +8 with 25 takeaways and 17 giveaways. What they need to do is create more turnovers on defense and get the ball to the offense in good field position more often. "Stop A-Rod and you'll stop the offense", isn't that true for any QB and any offense? How would you stop Rodgers anyway? There are plenty of DCs in the league who will pay big money for the answer to that question. Thanks, Since '61

packfan44's picture

Thanks for your expert analysis, it was true to form. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts!

Since '61's picture

Thanks packfan44 for your generous comments. Since '61

Nick Perry's picture

"With the TEs the Packers now have defenses are going to need to decide between covering the middle of the field and going 1 on 1 on the boundary or doubling the boundary and exposing the middle of the field so I think we'll see Jordy have another great season. Monty out of the backfield just adds to the defense's concerns."

Excellent comment Since '61..... Because IMO Bennett is better than Cook he presents the same big challenges to a defense that Cook did last year when he was on the field, probably more. Just look at what happened to this offense once Cook was back and healthy. Throw in a 2nd TE with Kendricks speed and size and a RB like Monty or even Aaron Jones or Cobb who'll lineup everywhere, the opposing defense is going to have problems.

Just too many damn weapons for ANY defense to cover with a QB like Rodgers throwing the ball. He'll find the open man 9 times out of 10.

Since '61's picture

NP - Great point about AR finding the open man. I agree completely. Thanks, Since '61

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Looks like we have another Stroh warming up in the comments section. Sigh.

EdsLaces's picture

Monty split out with Martellus Jordy Davante Cobb....this season is gonna be nuts.

JohnnyLogan's picture

Offense will be good. Can I begin early?... Fire Capers!

packfan44's picture

Are you really serious! Capers caused all the injuries last year???? Get real and smell the roses, Capers has done a real workman approach with what he has, go smoke some more "maryjane".

Shavager's picture

Oh C'MON MAN as Ditka would say--"smoke some more maryjane"--WHAT have you been smokin'? FACTS about Capers in his EIGHT seasons: his defenses have GIVEN UP--MOST POINTS EVER BY ANY PACKERS PLAYOFF TEAM over 97 YEARS of history; the SECOND most points by any Pack playoff team, AND the THIRD most points ever by Pack's playoff team. GAVE UP: NFL RECORD PASS YARDS in 2011 for a single season with a secondary including Sam Shields and Tramon Williams; GAVE UP: NFL RECORD RUN YDS FOR QB to a 'running QB' in '12 to Kaepernick--they looked like a 'Chinese fire drill' vs Niners (SECOND most points ever given up by a Pack playoff team--45). Capers and McCarthy have LOST TWO CONSECUTIVE TITLE GAMES--NO Packers HC in team history has ever done that. In FACT--under Capers defense--McCarthy/Rodgers have a LOSING RECORD in the playoffs over past SIX consecutive years. Capers defense BLEW a 16 POINT LEAD and TITLE Game when he had Tramon Williams, in the '14 NFC TITLE game, covering the 'Hawks BEST WR Jermaine Kearse, one on one--Tramon Williams was NFL's WORST DB for QB completion rate and TD RATES--WHAT PART OF NFL'S WORST DB for completion rate/TD rate did Capers NOT UNDERSTAND--WHO do you think the Seahawks would target to win that game in OT? And Capers had NO HELP for Williams. In the '15 playoff game--Capers ABANDONED 'man to man' that was dominating Cardinals passing game--went to SOFT ZONES in mid-third quarter--and succeeded in giving up 75 YRD pass/run play to Cards' BEST WR--Larry Fitzgerald--who was WIDE OPEN in a 'soft zone', the closest DB was 20 YDS AWAY. And last year? Capers defense BLEW a 23 POINT LEAD against Cowboys before Rodgers and Crosby saved the game only to get blown out by Falcons. FACT: Aaron Rodgers takes Packers to playoffs every season and DUMB Capers defense BEATS THEM EVERY YEAR! P.S.--it's NOT like Capers hasn't been given the TALENT to build a defense--Ted Thompson has SIGNED or DRAFTED enough NEW players over past SIX seasons for Capers to build SEVEN COMPLETE DEFENSES--do ya' really think it's players that's NOT getting the job done on defense?

JJtheTraveler's picture

YES we'er going to have a GREAT offence, it's the health of the "D" that's the key. If the "D" can just be middle of the pack (pun intended) we have a great chance at another ring.

Harlan Huckleby's picture

The question for me is can the receiving corps survive a situation where Jordy disappears again, either due to injury or hitting an old-age wall? I think with the emergence of Adams the answer is yes.

Packer Fan's picture

Read the article in Acme Packing Company about Rodgers vs Brady. And how the Pats surround Brady with players that play to his strength. The Pack has that this year with the added tight ends. Rodgers has so many targets and mis-matches that he can exploit the defenses with. I hope MM totally opens the play book and use all the weapons he has. And I believe GB will be a good running team. MM needs to be aggressive and assertive from the get go to get home playoff games and attempt to blow everyone out. We can hope the defense will come around by January to be a good enough unit to win the Super Bowl.

LayingTheLawe's picture

I wouldn't be so quick to write off Cobb. In the three playoff games he had 6 catches per game for about 85 yards per game and had three touchdowns against the Giants. If he's healthy he is certainly still part of the equation.

Couch Cleats's picture

I love the weapons that this team has right now and it will be fun to see how the rookies do in camp. If one of the rookie or second year wide-outs looks like he could be a starter soon it will be interesting to see what they do with Richard Rodgers.

With the new FA TE's we signed, the good receiving talent at our running back group and the apparent talent of the rookie wide-outs, I just don't see how they can keep Richard Rodgers.

We have many other young players that will be more effective on Special teams and I just don't think he has enough speed to play for a good team. I really like the guy and I think he is smart and works hard but he can only really play TE for a team with no other talent at the position. Last year he even lost weight in an effort to get faster but that didn't really help either.

If AR wasn't so damn accurate he probably would never even throw to him. Mosts of his catches are with guys hanging all over him. Most other QB's wouldn't even consider throwing to him because he never has any separation.

Hate to say it but RR is my surprise veteran cut this year.

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