Could injuries at wide receiver hamstring the Packers?

Randall Cobb was a player who helped ignite the Packers offense last season.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

 

The Green Bay Packers head into training camp next week primed at receiver – especially with their top three, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones, who should all be healthy and ready to pick up where they left off last season.

Cobb and Jones were the standouts in 2012. Jones led the league in wide receiver touchdowns with 14 and Cobb led the Packers with 80 catches for 954 yards. They were stellar the entire season.

Nelson was on track to repeat his 2011 performance when he rolled up more than 1,200 yards receiving. But then he got hurt, and hurt again. He never got back to the Jordy Nelson that Packers fans have come to know and love. What helped the Packers when Nelson went down was that Greg Jennings came back after being out most of the year to pick up the slack that the loss of Nelson brought about.

Jordy Nelson and Aaron Rodgers are due to get back into the groove in 2013.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

This year, there is no Greg Jennings and though Donald Driver didn’t play much at all in his final year with the Packers, he did provide a veteran presence.

So, the question must be asked: Should the Packers suffer injuries among their big three – Cobb, Nelson, and Jones – will the team be deep enough to battle through without a drop-off in talent?

Beyond the big three, the Packers are unproven, though talented. The first man up would be Jarrett Boykin, a young player with size and the hands that coaches really like. He does have some experience, having appeared in 10 games last season, catching five passes for 27 yards. He will unquestionably get a lot of playing time in training camp and in the preseason games as coaches have to get him ready to play in the event that one of the big three go down.

Next in line, as far as the depth chart goes, is Jeremy Ross, the dynamic returner who turned a few heads last season when he filled in for Randall Cobb on the return teams. A big receiver with an uncanny knack for hitting holes and finding seams on the returns last season, the coaching staff is also impressed with his receiving skills. He could take over for Cobb on special teams and will certainly get a good look from the coaching staff. His value would soar if he could take over for Cobb, and he would also be in line for playing time as a receiver if called upon.

Bringing up the rear of the receiving depth chart are two rookies drafted in the later rounds of this past spring’s NFL Draft – Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey - as well as four undrafted receivers in Sederrik Cunningham, Alex Gillett, Tyrone Walker and Myles White.

Not a lot is known about any of these receivers, but it is the two drafted rookies who will most likely get the longest looks during training camp. My guess is that unless Johnson and Dorsey burn up the field, one of them may make the team while the other may be tucked away on the practice squad.

James Jones
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

On the other hand, the Packers are known for finding golden nuggets among undrafted free agents. Many have already been impressed with the skillset White brings to the table. If there is any undrafted player who could make the team it might be White.

So, as we look beyond the top three receivers, the Packers have players with potential, but nobody who could be looked at as an immediate contributor. Should the Packers suffer injuries early on to their top receivers, the backups are going to have to learn in a hurry.

We can only hope that the injury bug stays away from the receivers and that the top three stay healthy, while the others have the time to develop.

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  • DTowleJr

    Isn’t it a bit early to be speculating on the demise of the Packers season? Might as well write an article on Clay Matthews going down, or Aaron Rodgers, or Coach McCarthy! It’s not a clever way of exploring the WR depth chart, at least not a way I want to hear it!

    • Dan

      The offseason is for speculation. Injuries are a part of the game, and it’s good to know who the Packers have beyond their starters on the depth chart because history tells us there’s a good chance many of the reserves will play some point in the season. Building a good NFL team is just as much about finding quality depth as it is about finding star players. I would like to read an article about what the Packers would do if Matthews or Rodgers went down during the season.

      • DTowleJr

        Agreed. But with so much “good” news happening on the Packers front right now, I’d prefer to read more uplifting articles – call me a Green and Gold optimist!

        • Dan

          It’s good to have a positive outlook going into the season. You’re right. There’s a lot to be excited about. This will be a great year for Packers football. I can’t wait!

  • Dan

    This is something I’ve been wondering about since the Packers let Jennings test free agency. I love the big three, but there’s a good chance at least one of them will miss some time during the season due to injury. The Packers seem to need at least 3 good receivers to run effectively. It will be interesting to see if some the young receivers emerge during the preseason.

  • Mike Brand

    most teams only have 2 wrs that are good the packers have 3 and with the new guys like johnson and dorsey and add boykin and ross to that i just dont see a problem with the best qb in the nfl

  • Michael Castelaz

    It’s not a coincidence that Green Bay always has offensive weapons… Good QBs and good coaching make these receivers stand out. Charles Johnson is a FREAK physical specimen, and under GB’s tutelage he could be downright scary. Everything I’ve read and heard about Boykin is that he’s ready to go. Even in a lengthy interview with Greg Jennings after he signed with Minnesota, he lauded praise on Boykin.

    Every receiver we’ve put on the field in as long as I can remember has overachieved, and we’ve never been effective running the ball. Even if Lacy/Frankin are complete busts, I’d imagine they’d garner more attention from defenses than anybody we’ve had in the past couple years.

    The only thing GB should be concerned about is their defense. Colin Kaepernick made that group look like a 7th grade B team chasing around the kid who developed early. 160ish rushing yards UNTOUCHED in a DIVISIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME?!!?

    I never want to think about that again. And I don’t want to hear another word about our offense until somebody figures out how to shore up the D… yikes.