Packers tight end Martellus Bennett is suffering from a shoulder injury and won’t play Monday night against the Detroit LIons, clearing the way for more playing time afforded to Lance Kendricks.
While Bennett has struggled with drops this season, the worst being the muff on the play when Aaron Rodgers was injured, he’s been one of the best blocking tight ends the Packers have had in years.
That part of his game will be missed.
Enter Kendricks – and Richard Rodgers, too.
But it will be Kendricks who will get the vast majority of snaps Monday night against the Lions.
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To date, he has played only 25 percent of the total snaps for the Packers, but of those snaps he’s made the most of the opportunity.
Those opportunities – six receptions on nine targets for 94 yards have netted him a 15.7-yard per-reception, and one touchdown.
That TD came in his best game of the year, Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals when his touchdown and 52 yards helped the Packers to a 27-24 win.
In that game, he showed solid route running on plays designed by Mike McCarthy to get him into space.
We’ve seen what he is capable of doing and come Monday night Kendricks is going to get his shot.
Here’s how he reacted to the question about more playing time:
"“I’m definitely comfortable. I think just being able to go through a few game plans, especially with well-known opponents – like, divisional opponents – I think that helped a lot.“I’m definitely confident, and I’m playing fast.”"
What’s really cool is that Kendricks gets his renewed shot at being the featured tight end with his home state team at Lambeau Field and against a division foe.
Kendricks graduated from Rufus King International High School in Milwaukee and then spent his college career at the University of Wisconsin.
Unlike a young player stepping into a situation like this, Kendricks has already done it in the NFL.
Six years and 204 receptions later with the Rams, Kendricks came to Green Bay last spring when Ted Thompson inked both Bennett and Kendricks within days of one another, fortifying a position that had been weak for years.
That double-dip move now appears to be paying off.
Green Bay Packers
And with Bennett talking retirement last week, Kendricks’ increased role comes at the best possible moment.
This will be more than an audition for Kendricks – it will be the game where he can solidify his role as the starter. It’s also a preview of the future.
If and when Bennett retires, the fallback is that Kendricks is signed for one more year.
Come Monday night, all eyes will be on Kendricks to see how he handles his chance.
My guess is that he’s solid, productive, and professional.