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Packers' McCaffrey Didn't Take the High Road to Green Bay

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Packers' McCaffrey Didn't Take the High Road to Green Bay

The opportunities have been aplenty for Packers receiver Max McCaffrey, and up to this point, he's made the most of them.

As the oldest of the McCaffrey siblings, a genetic line in which the football skills run ramped, you'd almost expect McCaffrey to seize his moment and flee with it. It's in his nature.

In 53 games at Duke, McCaffrey earned two Academic All-ACC honors en route to setting several career-highs in receiving during his senior season. Despite the name on the back of his jersey and the promise he brings, McCaffrey went undrafted.

He landed with the Raiders in 2016, only to be released a few months later and ultimately end up on the Packers' practice squad by December.

His father, Ed, is well familiar with his son's current team. It was who he and his Denver Broncos squared off with in Super Bowl 32, a group who is ultimately responsible for the Packers not repeating another championship run following their 1996 season.

Max was just three-and-a-half years old at the time. Now, almost two decades later, he's looking to make his mark on the city of Green Bay in a different way. Only it'll take much more than an impressive resume and a name sewn onto the back of his jersey to do so.

"It's tough coming in as an undrafted guy," McCaffrey said after Wednesday's training camp practice. "I came in later in the year last year so I definitely want to come out and just prove every day that I love this game. So every day I have a chance to play, I'll do it to the best of my ability."

Unlike his younger brother, Christian, McCaffrey didn't get to enjoy the euphoric environment of draft day. The eldest of the McCaffrey clan had to take the high road, and where his next stop is, nobody knows. However, he's been proving almost every practice that he deserves to stay right where he is.

Not only has he been making plays in practice, but he was the Packers' leading receiver last Thursday night against the Eagles. His three receptions on seven targets for 60 yards led the team up until the last nine seconds of the game when rookie receiver DeAngelo Yancey caught a touchdown pass that gave him 67 yards on the night, also from three catches.

McCaffrey shedding a tackler during the Packers' preseason win over the Eagles. (Green Bay Press-Gazette/USA TODAY Sports)

Outside of the three at the top of the depth chart, there are nine receivers battling for positioning in camp. The spots behind Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams are as good as anyone's between now and September 2nd, which is the day teams across the league must cut down their rosters to the maximum 53 best players they've chosen.

McCaffrey has a chance to avoid being included in those cut-downs. He hasn't had a chance to truly experience this scenario, as once he was signed to the Packers' practice squad in December of last year, he was on the active roster by the NFC title game as insurance for a wounded Nelson.

If you can find a way to look over the 6'6" Michael Clark, who is one of the aforementioned receivers fighting for a spot, you'll see McCaffrey leading the way. With Aaron Rodgers slinging him darts, the odds are in his favor.

"I try to learn stuff with him every day, watching Jordy [Nelson}, Davante [Adams] and those guys," McCaffrey said. "If he ever wants something different, I'll try to change my game to fit the system... It all starts with the quarterback and what he's expecting receivers and from the line. He's the field general so you definitely want to make sure everyone's on the same page with that."

McCaffrey can just stick to his job and find a place on the Packers' roster one way or another, whether it be as one of the 53-best players they have to offer or on the 10-man practice squad. No undrafted receiver makes it to the league and goes through the ringer without turmoil.

Another impressive outing on Saturday against the Redskins would certainly help those same odds that are already heavily favoring him.

"Everyone has their own road," McCaffrey said, referencing Patriots receiver Chris Hogan who went through four different teams before becoming an intricate piece to a Super Bowl team in February. "You see guys from the NFL coming all over the place... I just try to pick up stuff, learn what you need to do to play in this league."

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (55) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Ibleedgreenmore's picture

So many talented receivers this year, one might get injured and one traded can not keep all of them.

RCPackerFan's picture

The injuries will likely play a part in it. Right now Dupre is in the concussion protocol, and Yancey has a groin issue. We don't know who else will get hurt along the way.

Tedlyflyfisher's picture

We are LOADED at WR this year! I don't see any way that Jordy, Cobb, Adams, Geronimo and McCaffrey don't make the 53. That's 5. Then if T.Davis keeps looking good as punt returner/WR, that's 6. And you know T.T. never wants to jettison his draftees. But do you risk putting Michael Clark on the practice squad? I wouldn't. I'd go with the 6 mentioned, plus Dupre OR Yancy, plus Clark. Yep, 8 guys. Put D.or Y. On the practice squad along with Montay Crockett, and cut Janis.

TheVOR's picture

When I think about Desmond Howard, I kind of view Davis and Janis the same way. Desmond Howard was a Kick returning fool, who was a Horrific positional player. Janis IMO has to be considered almost a lock. His special teams contribution in both player Gunner, and Returning, not to mention his occasional heroics at WR, make him almost a lock IMO. Every team needs a standout Special Teams Player, and IMO Janis is that guy. It would "shock me" is Janis doesn't make the roster. The guy we never seem to see "anything" from as a WR or KR is Davis. I wasn't sure the dude even had a pulse until last week. I'm least impressed with his abilities. He's a Zero thus far at WR. His Punt return couldn't have come at a better time for him, because I had him as GONE up until he muddied the water with his once in 2 years heroics. I think the bigger question is who do you keep between Janis and Adams, because to keep Adams because he's thus far a marginal punt returner, just seems so wrong. If an Adams makes this roster over a Max McCaffery, that would be closer to a tragedy!

dobber's picture

...and by Adams, you mean Davis, right?

sonomaca's picture

Can keep 8 until week 2, when Allison comes back. Also, Dupre could be placed on IR. Yancy has a groin, which may be slow to heal. He also might go to IR. Then need to keep these guys around for 2018.

sonomaca's picture

McCaffery had another nice practice. No way he gets to PS. Belichick must be salivating at the chance to get Max.

Who the heck is Pipkins, and how the heck is he doing this well?

Spriggs might be a dud. Can Murphy play LT?

RCPackerFan's picture

I really like what I saw from Pipkins. I thought he looked really good in the first preseason game until he got hurt. He is a guy to keep an eye on for sure in the next preseason games.

Nick Perry's picture

I read something this morning where Spriggs lost two more 1 on 1 drills yesterday. One against Calvin and another against a player who's name I heard maybe once before and almost certainly won't be in GB come September. Right now I'm in an absolute panic over the O-Line depth. I know I've been really harsh on Spriggs but I can get over how TERRIBLE he looked in the first preseason game. That dude is a totally liability and I shudder to think what might happen in a regular season game against the likes of Vic Beasley, Michael Bennett, or any other "Pass Rusher".

RCPackerFan's picture

'Right now I'm in an absolute panic over the O-Line depth.'

While I will say that the depth hasn't looked particularly great, lets just take a big deep breath and lets just see how the next game looks.

Nick Perry's picture

Double post...Sorry

sonomaca's picture

All reports are that Fackrell not progressing. I hope one of the young guys steps up.

RCPackerFan's picture

I know he has struggled in the 1 on 1 drill.

That being said he had a great pass rush against the eagles. He got around the corner and basically forced the fast throw which was intercepted by Joe Thomas. He has that speed/bend to get around the corner.

Finwiz's picture

Does anyone realize that Kyler Fackrell, the supposed heir apparent to Julius Peppers, won his FIRST one on one matchup in practice yesterday, against some 3rd string scrub? Prior to that he had been ZERO for 24. That's ZERO wins in 24 attempts in practice. This from a guy that's supposed to have talent to help in the pass rush department?

Jonathan Spader's picture

Fackrell is not the "heir apparent" to Julius Peppers. He's a 3rd round pick who plays smart but has yet to really impress. What he inherits from the departure of Peppers and Jones is opportunity. He still has to earn his play time. I hope TT picks up DeAndre Levy to help bolster OLB depth. Otherwise finds someone that outperforms what we have like Schum was thought to do last year at punter.

flackcatcher's picture

We have three starters, one backup of known ability, one backup with superior athletic skills and that's it. That's five. The rest are fighting for a special teams spot to get on the 53. ST is calling this tune, other positions may be more needed, and a roster spot may be lost for this group, Guys like McCaffery must prove their value to Zook to have a chance, Outside the three only Janis is a near lock to make the 53, even Allison must prove his value on ST. Nothing is given in this league.

RCPackerFan's picture

I like McCaffrey. For me though, I really haven't seen anything that stands out with him. Of course that's based on 1 preseason game and 1 family night practice.

I'd like to see more from him. Also I'd like to see him get some more chances returning kicks and punts and even being a gunner on special teams. That is where he would be most beneficial right now.

With the logjam at WR right now, McCaffrey is one of the young guys fighting for a spot on the 53. I think this battle will come down to the 4th preseason game. McCaffrey might be one of the last ones standing. And if not, hopefully he will be able to get on the PS.

Savage57's picture

Brett Swain ver. 2.0.

dobber's picture

Jared Abbrederis 2.0?

cuervo's picture

I think everyone is overstating the supposed attraction of these recievers for other teams.

Once we cut X, Y, and Z, we offer them a spot on the practice squad, which is the same thing every other team is going to do. Based on that, do you think X, Y, or Z will leave GB to go to another PS somewhere else?

Of course the possibility exists that another team offers X,Y, or Z a spot on their 53 man roster....that my friends is highly unlikey, as none of these guys have proven anything. For instance, the very idea that any team would put Clark, with 1 year of minor college football experience on their 53 man roster is just plain idiotic.

Will we lose a couple of these guys...probably, but that will be because we didn't offer them a spot on the practice squad....NOT because some team wants them on their 53 man roster. They aren't all going to turn into Jordy Nelson or Jerry Rice.

RCPackerFan's picture

'For instance, the very idea that any team would put Clark, with 1 year of minor college football experience on their 53 man roster is just plain idiotic.'

Well considering the Packers have had Goodson and Rollins on their roster with very limited college experience I don't think it is idiotic to think Clark could make the 53.
Also there have been other players around the league that have had very little to no college experience that have made NFL rosters. (Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham).

Lets not rule Clark out or anyone else out until we see them in more preseason games.

cuervo's picture

Goodson played 3 years at Baylor and was a 6th round pick, Graham played 1 year at Miami (big time college) and was a 3rd round pick, Rollins played 1 year and was a 2nd round pick...see the difference? Granted Gates is the oulier here, having never played college football. Clark played one year and was undrafted.

I guess some team that has nothing to hope for, like the Browns could try a flier on a guy like Clark. He wouldn;t be successful and I just don't see it happening in todays NFL.

RCPackerFan's picture

Goodson did play 3 years. Essentially the first 2 years he barely played though. He played a total of 19 college games. Clark played 11.

Graham played 1 year of college football as did Rollins. And Gates played 0 football until the NFL. That was the whole point. There are players that came into the league with little to no experience.

While I think it would be best for Clark to spend a year on the PS, i'm not ruling him out of earning a spot on the 53. That is the whole point. Lets see what happens in the next few preseason games first before we anoint anyone of these backups anything.

dobber's picture

True on Goodson, but he was in spring and fall camps, and practicing during the regular season, for all of those years, presumably. It's all exposure to the system. All the more making a guy like Gates very impressive.

CJ Bauckham's picture

I like McCaffrey.

I also like how the article is titled 'McCaffrey didn't take the high road'

Then later says 'the eldest of the McCaffrey clan had to take the high road'

That cracked me up

marpag1's picture

LOL. Yeah. And never mind that the expression is completely unsuitable for the context anyway. "To take the high road" means to do what is morally right, good or ethical, especially in the face of provocation to do otherwise.

Finwiz's picture

"Football skills run RAMPANT", not ramped.
Ramped not even a word?

dobber's picture

When ramp is used as a verb, ramped is legit...

"He ramped up his effort"

Finwiz's picture

Incorrect in the context it was used in the article.
Fact is "ramped" was flagged as misspelled word when I typed it.

dobber's picture

You are correct...not in that context.

marpag1's picture

We need to remember that certain articles on this site will always be written in 'Murican, which, though related to English, is not English.

Finwiz's picture

I don't think McCaffrey makes the team, but maybe they can slip him through waivers to the practice squad again.

fthisJack's picture

usually teams don't snag guys from other practice squads right after they have cut down to 53. its during the course of the year when injuries start piling up that teams scour practice squads looking for hidden gems.

cuervo's picture

Great point, which is why this continued banter about every team out there just licking their chops to be be able to snag the next Jerry Rice or Antonio Gates off of our discards and pluck them on their 53 man roster is pure silliness.

That said, WR will be the most interesting cuts by far...knowing the Packers, injuries will almost certainly play a large part in that decision.

sonomaca's picture

As I understand it, if team A cuts player X, team B can sign him to its 53, but not to its PS. If player X is not signed to a 53, he may sign with team A to join its PS, or to any PS he chooses.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

No, I don't think that the first sentence is correct (it describes the rules about teams trying to lure a player who has already signed onto another team's PS in-season). The 2nd sentence just confuses me. Anyway, at final cut-downs, young players (< 4 yrs service) that are released go through a shortened waivers system. A team that makes a waiver claim on a released player has to put the player on their 53 man roster. Veterans that are released immediately become FAs.

If no waiver is made by Noon the day following cutdowns, the player can sign onto any team's PS or 53 man roster. To lure FAs onto their PS squads, teams can give out signing bonuses, but a team can't spend more than $89K (IIRC) total in signing bonuses on all their PS signings. A loophole the size of Montana does allow teams to guarantee salary.

PatrickGB's picture

Yes, injuries will play a major role. I would not be surprised to see a couple of draft picks end up on IR. Max is fast smart and skilled. He knows where to be and therefore valuable and trusted by the QB. But in order to make this roster he has to be valuable on special teams as well. From what I have read he is doing ok there but no glowing reports as yet. Things will sort themselves out in the next few weeks. But I would love to see him set himself up to be the next Janis on special teams and assure himself a spot on the 53.

sonomaca's picture

Kind of more worried about backup tackle position than receiver at this point. If Spriggs is a dud, what do you do?

EdsLaces's picture

Weird place to put this, but I feel like this is kinda a small family so I'm gonna. My little brother is a diehard packer fan from here in West Virginia. Why is he a packer fan? Cause his big brother is. He has loved the packers as much or more than me for his 22 years of being on this earth. His make a wish trip in go to Green Bay and meet Mr. Favre of course. We have been to many stadiums, but nothing compares to our home...the frozen tundra. He was diagnosed with C.F. at a very young age and has been battling for his life ever since. He's a fighter and a true Packers fan. Today is the day of his lung transplant if the new lungs test well here in about 20 minutes. I felt the need to share for me (Tyler) but more importantly for Wyatt. I hope I get to watch many games this year.....with my baby brother! Go pack go!

sonomaca's picture

Best wishes to your brother.

RCPackerFan's picture

Thanks for sharing Tyler!

My thoughts are with you and your brother and family!

GBPDUKE's picture

I will be praying for him.

Slim11's picture

Go, Wyatt, go!

porupack's picture

All the best Tyler, and thinking of Wyatt. Hope his dreams are fulfilled. Sports are good in that way, to offer some fun distractions.

porupack's picture

All the best Tyler, and thinking of Wyatt. Hope his dreams are fulfilled. Sports are good in that way, to offer some fun distractions.

EdsLaces's picture

Thank you very much ....still waiting on news on if the lungs are good enough.

EdsLaces's picture

No go on these lungs I guess:(

veteranviewer's picture

"run ramped"
Get real

irish chupacabra's picture

Sorry to hear Tyler. I will continue to pray for lungs to be found that are a match for Wyatt-and soon. I have two kids with C.F. (ages 22 and 19) and can relate. Continue to be a great support for Wyatt.
Treasure Life!

EdsLaces's picture

Thank you very much...its a fight but we will win!

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I'd honestly like to see McCaffrey and Adams start outside, with Nelson in the slot. Then I'd have Davis, Janis, Dupre, and Clark help on Special Teams while rounding out the WR group.

Yancey to Practice Squad. Cobb and Allison released.

Won't happen, but that's what I'd like.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Adams and somebody-else-who-is-good starting on the outside with Nelson in the slot would be ideal. At this point, I haven't made up my mind who that somebody else might be. I take some solace in that I haven't yet had to eliminate any of the main contenders from consideration.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I agree it's close. I just have McCaffrey in the lead. He's more consistent as a receiving threat than Davis, Janis, or the rookies.

Releasing Cobb and Allison is also a tough call, but I just can't justify Cobb's pricetag and Allison's low ceiling--not with all this big talent we have coming up.

Finwiz's picture

And you know ALL this about McCaffrey being more consistent after ONE preseason game? You are quite the foot ball "savant".

dobber's picture

I like the fact that there are players here that have us excited to watch and speculate, but I just don't see McCaffrey as being much better than a Jared Abbrederis. If you look at their workout numbers, they're remarkably similar: McCaffrey faster, Abbrederis "quicker". IMO, McCaffrey's ceiling is as a #3, but he's more likely a 4-6.

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