Packers Need to See What EQ Can Do

The Green Bay Packers got some good news regarding third-year receiver Equanimeous St. Brown this week as the former Notre Dame star was designated to return from the injured reserve and returned to practice. The Packers now have three weeks to either activate him to the active roster or shelve him for the rest of the season.

St. Brown has not played in a regular season game since Week 16 of 2018. He missed all last season after suffering an ankle injury during training camp and being stashed on the injured reserve before the season started.

He was injured again in training camp this year and placed on the injured reserve after Week 2 with a leg injury.

St. Brown had a strong finish to his rookie campaign, catching eight passes in his final three contests including five grabs for 94 yards in his final game against the New York Jets.

Now, after more than a full season on the shelf, St. Brown is on the cusp of being able to return. That is a good thing because the Packers are still without Allen Lazard for at least a few more games after he was placed on the injured reserve with a core muscle injury. Even with the anticipated return of Davante Adams, the Packers are still lacking experienced players at the wide receiver position right now.

So, Matt LaFleur and the Packers coaching staff will need contributions from St. Brown almost immediately after he is activated.

The Packers organization was high on St. Brown’s potential and continued to praise the former Notre Dame star in training camp this year.

“EQ is extremely intelligent. Unfortunately, missing a whole season practically, you don’t get those reps,” LaFleur said during training camp this year. “So, it’s just more or less, getting him out there, getting him comfortable with not only the play calls, but the routes, just working him back into it. But I have a lot of confidence in not only his ability but his mind. I know he’s working hard on it each and every day.”

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was also anticipating EQ’s return during training camp. “I’m excited about getting EQ back from injury and seeing how he feels,” Rodgers told reporters in August. “He really made some great strides his rookie year, especially towards the end of the season, making plays for us and growing each week. He has a great approach to the game. It will be fun to see him healthy.”

St. Brown is 6’5” which means he is the same height as Lazard. It wouldn’t be surprising to see LaFleur and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to ask EQ to play a similar role to that which Lazard was playing with many of his patterns going over the middle of the field. Overall, St. Brown is faster than Lazard but isn’t quite as good as a blocker.

The Packers are committed to not rushing back St. Brown and rookie ILB Kamal Martin back from the IR. They have been practicing with the team this week and are being closely watched after practice to make sure their bodies are responding well to the increased workload. The one thing the coaching staff doesn’t want to do is rush these players back and have them get re-injured as a result.

“It’s just one of those things we’re going to take one day at a time, give them work each day and see how their body responds,” LaFleur told reporters at his Wednesday video conference call. “At this time, there is a lot of unknown in terms of just how you respond to a practice. There will be some limitations on them but we’re going to try to progress them each and every day.”

Rodgers was developing trust in St. Brown late in the 2018 season and in training camp this season. It will almost certainly take some time to get quarterback and receiver on the same page regularly after so much time between games.

 The Packers did not draft a wide receiver this year much to the disappointment of many fans. One reason sighted by GM Brian Gutekunst was that by the time the Pack was picking, there weren’t any players they had rated higher than the guys the franchise already have on their roster. EQ was one of those players who the team rated higher than the available draftable talent.

Now, it will be up to St. Brown to prove that the team’s faith was justified and to prove he can carve out a roll in this very potent Green Bay offense.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (38)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
ricky's picture

October 15, 2020 at 12:35 pm

If ESB can't do well, if not flourish in this system with this QB, he won't fit in anywhere- even KC. What he needs to do is show he is able to stay healthy, then produce on the field.

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GilMartin's picture

October 15, 2020 at 12:58 pm

This is a big chance for him with Lazard out. If he can establish himself as reliable and consistent now in this system, he'll remain a weapon for the Pack even after Lazard gets back. Rodgers will find a way to get him some targets even if he is the 4th receiver on the depth chart. Thanks for the comment, ricky.

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Razer's picture

October 15, 2020 at 01:53 pm

Oh Ricky you're so fine
You're so fine you blow my mind
Hey Ricky, hey Ricky

Totally agree

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Matt Gonzales's picture

October 15, 2020 at 03:07 pm

He has to have shown enough in 2018 and in camp last year that they were willing to stash him for a year on IR an continue to pay him (even with split salary). Durability is a concern but it would be great to have a smaller shifty guy in the middle of the field and in the flat other than the RBs.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

October 15, 2020 at 04:20 pm

"Smaller shifty" ESB is 6'5 and 215 I don't think I'd call him smaller matt. Shepard and Ervin can fill that role.

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Coldworld's picture

October 15, 2020 at 04:26 pm

He is shifty for a big man, which was his plus, but he is nowhere near as agile as Shepherd or Adams in short area. That said, he doesn’t need to be if he can use his physicality, which remains a question. He is far more shifty than Lazard and not as much of a long strider as MVS.

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GilMartin's picture

October 15, 2020 at 08:03 pm

Agreed mattgsx. If he can contribute that would give the Pack some much-needed reliable depth at WR. Thanks for commenting.

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Archie's picture

October 15, 2020 at 01:02 pm

I'd bet EQ knows the offense well at this point. Yes, he is not the blocker that Lazard is, owing to his slighter frame. Might be optimistic but would be excitng to see him have a big game this week. Our #4 and #5 guys can contibute as well.

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GilMartin's picture

October 15, 2020 at 01:03 pm

I agree he probably knows the offense well by now, although he hasn't played in a regular season game in LaFleur's system yet. This is a big opportunity for EQ , I hope he can take advantage of it. Thanks for commenting, Archie.

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Coldworld's picture

October 15, 2020 at 02:09 pm

This offense isn’t the one he played in. Given his injuries, missing last year and this off season being what it was it’s not as given as assumed I think.

I do not think we need to rush him. In fact I think it’s important that we don’t. He needs to be ready physically and mentally. It’s important for him to get off to a good start. Unlike some, I don’t regard Shepherd as a space filler. In 2 successive camps he has been clearly outshone by Shepherd. The comments on EQ are not as effusive as suggested or as made with respect to others. We need to temper Physical gifts with what we have seen, actual performance experience and a very long layoff. I also don’t see EQ as a blocker on a par even with Taylor let alone Lazard.

Perhaps he will prove me wrong, but we do not NEED him this week in my opinion. We would like him to realize his potential and, after a very long lay off, it may be he will need mire time before activation and significant snaps. He is not a returning vet, he had flashed but not established and he may well need time.

I strongly doubt he will be a difference maker in his first game(s) back and I think it’s Ridiculous to put that on him. I also think the implied rejection of other WR depth based on not much is pretty baseless. We want EQ handled in a way that maximizes his potential over the next 12 games.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

October 15, 2020 at 02:28 pm

This isn't the offense he played in, but he's been through two training camps in this offense, so he should have the mental part down, particularly since he showed as a rookie he could grasp an offense well enough to contribute. But it will take some time to get on the same page with Rodgers again. If his body does okay, he might be effective a couple games from now. Or he could surprise us I guess.

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GilMartin's picture

October 15, 2020 at 08:08 pm

We shall see. It will take some time, I'm sure to get him back into full game shape, but that's why he's back in practice now. I think mentally after two camps, he'll have the playbook down pretty well, but studying it and doing it are not the same thing. I think he'll contribute soon after he's activated. Thanks for the comment, WestCoastPackerBacker.

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GilMartin's picture

October 15, 2020 at 08:06 pm

Definitely don't want to rush him back, Coldworld, no doubt about that. The absence of Lazard gives him more of a chance to contribute once he does come back, but rushing him would be foolish. The team has 3 weeks to make a decision on him for this year and I think we'll see them wait until he's ready both mentally and physically as you said. I am hoping he can show more consistency than he did as a rookie and that the flashes become regular performances. Thanks for commenting.

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Coldworld's picture

October 16, 2020 at 12:32 am

I agree with that

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Lare's picture

October 15, 2020 at 01:10 pm

"One reason sighted by GM Brian Gutekunst".

I think you meant "cited".

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GilMartin's picture

October 15, 2020 at 08:08 pm

Yes, thanks for the heads up.

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GatorJason's picture

October 15, 2020 at 10:54 pm

Ohhh, that's what Gil meant. I was thinking the reason Gutekunst "sighted" was the sight of an ugly WR draft board of receivers who didn't justify the pick as compared to other players available at the Packers' draft position.

I know there were some good wide receivers available early in the second round but the Packers did not have enough draft capital to move up the board. The 4th Round Pick used to move up in 1st round to draft Love might have been enough to move up in 2nd round and possibly snag Shenault, Hamler, Claypool or Mims. Even a 4th might not have been enough to get Shenault (20 picks earlier than Packer's pick). Claypool now looks like an obvious choice but we already had a tall, athletic ND WR on the roster. Plus Claypool and Mims were rated as a late 2nd round picks so it wasn't obvious the Packers even needed to trade up for one of those guys. After Mims got picked, the WR options dropped off dramatically.

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PatrickGB's picture

October 15, 2020 at 01:52 pm

EQ is a mystery to me. I saw him play in the slot and thought ,because of his size, it was not a good fit. But lo and behold he did ok. He has been hurt a lot and perhaps it’s do to his length and frame. It was the same worry I had about King. Both suffered injuries yet have lots of potential when healthy. Prior to his draft, many thought he would be a good second or third round pick. He dropped and was drafted after C’mon Moore. I am rooting EQ and look forward to seeing what he can do.

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GilMartin's picture

October 15, 2020 at 08:09 pm

I'm rooting for him, too. I like the potential there, now he has to realize it. Thanks for commenting, PatrickGB, always good to hear from you.

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PhantomII's picture

October 15, 2020 at 10:58 pm

He got hurt originally on the crappy field the NFL okayed for play in Canada. It was so bad they played on a shortened field and broke his ankle. He had good hands and good speed. We don't know what he has now. He was on an upward trend before injury. I think knee this time.... We will see I guess. I doubt he plays this week.

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Hematite's picture

October 15, 2020 at 04:18 pm

It's been so long since he's been on the field that I almost forgot that we still have him.

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GilMartin's picture

October 15, 2020 at 08:10 pm

Hopefully he'll change that soon after he's reactivated. Thanks for the comment, Hematite.

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CheesyTex's picture

October 15, 2020 at 04:23 pm

"Packers need to see what EQ can do".

After the long layoff, in all probability EQ needs to see what EQ can do.

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GilMartin's picture

October 15, 2020 at 08:12 pm

It certainly may take some time for him to get his legs back under him. We'll see what he can do when he gets activated. Thanks for the comment, CheesyTex.

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canadapacker's picture

October 15, 2020 at 05:58 pm

Ok - I was shocked when they picked Love -but I was not hoping for a receiver up high - I was hoping for a fast middle linebacker. I had always felt that our receiving corp was underrated and that issues last year was as much AR - not taking the early easy open guys, not being totally on target on the short passes and extending the play too long and then having to throw the ball away. This year the swing passes are on target so the guys can catch and run and deep balls on target and despite some early drops - receivers are making plays even on contested catches. Now with St Brown available and snaps available because of Lazard's injury - it is put up or shut up time. Just start him slowly in the game as at least he will draw some deep coverage and let the tight ends operate in the middle of the field.

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GilMartin's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:46 pm

This is a great opportunity for EQ once he's back in the lineup. It may be the best chance he gets this season. Hopefully he can take advantage of it. Thanks for the comment, canadapacker.

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CoachDino's picture

October 15, 2020 at 06:04 pm

Does media have access to Packers practices and if so is access granted during sessions where players can be evaluated? I can't remember hearing about how players look in practice. In cases like now where guys come back from IR it would be great to hear how they look, same for gary/King and Devante. Getting older so my memory isn't all that but I swear there used to be much more info on in season practice performance in years past.

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CoachDino's picture

October 15, 2020 at 07:11 pm

duplicate

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GilMartin's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:48 pm

I know the media does not have full access to all practices. It's not so easy to get a full evaluation as a result. Thanks for commenting, CoachDino, always good to hear from you.

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GatorJason's picture

October 15, 2020 at 10:03 pm

EQ is an enigma to most except the talent evaluators who let him slip to the 6th round in the 2018 NFL draft. He is tall but not physical. Fast but not quick. Athletic but not elusive. His catch per target ratio is low. Defenses read him like a book, cover him like a blanket, and fold him like a tent. I know I'm going to get killed for saying these things especially because highly respected analysts on this board love them some ESB but in reality, he is a fourth receiver with ceiling as a third receiver and an above average ST coverage guy. Comparatively speaking, he's a better receiver than Jeff Janis but not as good on ST. He has a place on the Packer roster, but not as a front line receiver. He and Malik Taylor are effectively competing for the same roster spot. May the best player win.

PS: I would be elated if he proves me wrong and suddenly becomes a reliable target for Aaron.

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GilMartin's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:49 pm

Until he proves you wrong, GatorJason, your point is spot on. He's shown flashes but not consistency which is typical of a rookie. Now he may get another chance to show what he can do. Thanks for commenting.

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

October 17, 2020 at 06:14 am

Wow Gator, your powers of evaluation are uncanny. You've gleaned an amazingly authoritative opinion on a player that has barely been seen on a professional field. Did you pull all of that knowledge from your study of EQ's 2018 snaps, or are you simply parroting some anonymous 2018 pre-draft scouting report?

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Handsback's picture

October 15, 2020 at 10:19 pm

I'll be curious how EQ and MVS compare on the field. It would be nice to see EQ make a few huge plays, and follow that up with MVS. It would bring a consistent level of play to the receiver corp.

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GilMartin's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:49 pm

Would love to see it, Handsback. Would add another big weapon to the offense. Thanks for the comment.

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SugarCain's picture

October 15, 2020 at 10:42 pm

Loved what EQ did for 4 yrs at Notre Dame...consistently the best athlete on the field with poor QB play. I believe he can be an excellent Pro player and needs reps badly.

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CheesyTex's picture

October 16, 2020 at 11:25 am

He is a young player -- came out of ND after Junior year, and could have used another year of college experience. IMO that he came out too early and that is a key reason why he fell in the draft.

Hope you are right and that reps are the only thing that stands between him and excellence.

Go EQ!!

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GilMartin's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:51 pm

Hope the reps are the big issue. He's really just starting his 2nd year in the league after sitting out all of last year. Let's see if he can make the jump. Thanks for the comment, CheesyTex.

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GilMartin's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:50 pm

He did look strong at ND, now he has a chance to show he can do it in the NFL. We shall see. Thanks for commenting, SugarCain.

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