The Packers and their fans are used to seeing serious injuries in the preseason.
In 2012, starting inside linebacker Desmond Bishop injured his hamstring in a preseason game and never played another down for the Packers. In 2013, starting tackle Bryan Bulaga suffered a torn ACL in the preseason, ending his season.
But when the news broke that rookie wide receiver Jared Abbrederis would be lost for the season due to a torn ACL, it stung a little more than most injuries. Despite the fact that at best he would have been the fifth man on the Packers wide receiver depth chart, because of his ties to the Badgers and the State of Wisconsin, there already seemed to be a strong connection between Abbrederis and Packer fans.
As unfortunate as the Abbrederis injury is, there are a couple of silver linings. A year on injured reserve should give Abbrederis time to work on his upper body strength, one of his biggest deficiencies entering the NFL.
And the Packers also have a ton of young, talented, albeit unproven, wide receivers on their roster that will now get more reps in the preseason and have a better chance at making the final roster.
Not counting rookie Davante Adams, who is a lock to make the Packers 53, the Packers have 6 first or second year receivers who will be vying for the fifth, and possibly sixth receiver spot on the Packer’s roster.
Second year players Myles White and Chris Harper have one advantage over the other players vying for a spot on the roster in that they were both on the Packer’s 53 man roster last season, so they should be familiar with the offense. While White’s speed, and Harper’s size, make them intriguing options, White has played well as a receiver so far in training camp, but has struggled catching punts on special teams. And Harper looked good early in camp, but has had some bad drops the past few days of practice.
Kevin Dorsey and Alex Gillett are also second year players, but neither saw any game action last season. Dorsey was a 7th round pick who spent all season on injured reserve, and Gillett, a converted quarterback, spent most of last season on the practice squad. Both have shown flashes during training camp and will need to continue to show improvement if they hope to have a shot at the Packer’s final roster.
Gerrard Sheppard, the newest member of the Packer receiving corps, will have his work cut out for him to make the final roster or practice squad. Claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens, Sheppard spent the entire 2013 season on the Ravens practice squad after going undrafted out of Towson. Sheppard has decent size, but his unfamiliarity with the Packers playbook hurts his chances to make the team.
And last but not least, is Jeff Janis. The rookie out of Saginaw State has the physical tools you want in an NFL receiver, but due to an illness, he has yet to practice with the team. With his return expected this week, Janis will have some catching up to do, but from a pure talent standpoint, he has as good of a chance as anyone to make the final 53.