With the first week of Green Bay Packers training camp in the books, one distinctive highlight is the emergence of rookie WR Amari Rodgers. This guy has the looks of a playmaker and is exciting to watch.
Of course, it is early, and thus far, practices have been predominantly without full pads. Time will tell just how good this young player is, but he is nothing short of explosive to date.
Researching players’ initial Pro-Football Combine numbers, Amari Rodger’s 40-yard dash of 4.44 seconds was almost five-tenths of a second faster than the average NFL time for Wide Receivers and Cornerbacks.
By comparison, NFL legend Jerry Rice clocked in at 4.71 seconds. Chris Carter and Larry Fitzgerald each posted a 4.63, while Antonio Brown registered a quick 4.47 seconds at their Combine workouts.
The only Packer wideout with a faster time was Marques-Valdes-Scantling, registering a lightning bolt 4.37-second 40-yard dash time.
Suffice it to say, Amari Rodgers is blistering fast. He also seems to catch everything that gets thrown his way. It appears he has sure hands, and any drops or incompletions are more likely poorly thrown or uncatchable balls.
The kid also knows how to get open too.
Do Not Let Size Fool You
Standing at 5″ 9″ tall, weighing 212 pounds, Amari Rodger’s often is compared to Randall Cobb, his friend and mentor in the slot position, who himself stands 5′ 10″ and weighs 195 pounds.
While the two are similar physically, Rodger’s physique is slightly more advantageous when lining up in the running back position than is Cobb’s.
Such size difference is apparent in the “jet sweep” plays the Packer offense has been practicing, and Amari looks quite natural executing these types of plays.
Since Randall Cobb joined the team on day two of camp, he and Amari Rodgers have been practicing with the number one offensive team, and both have been working on the punt return team.
Not sure how the special teams’ roster will play out, but it does appear Amari Rodgers will be the new punt return specialist in addition to a much-needed slot receiver tandem with Cobb.
Amari Rodgers Pedigree
Amari Rodgers was a 4-star recruit in high school, the 16th highest-rated WR prospect in the country. He earned such status compiling 3,498 total receiving yards and 47 touchdowns for the Knoxville Fighting Irish, his Catholic High School in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Despite being injured part of his junior year, his college career at Clemson produced 181 total receptions, 2,154 yards (1,020 his senior season), and 16 touchdowns with one punt return for a touchdown.
Acquired in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Packers moved up seven spots from 92 to 85 (Round 3, 85th pick overall) by sending their 92nd and 135th picks to the Tennessee Titans for the right to draft him. This young man is plenty talented.
The Packers Were His Dream Team
Back in 2010, Randall Cobb was a standout wide receiver for the University of Kentucky. Cobb’s coach was Tee Martin, a former University of Tennessee QB who also happens to be Amari’s father. The younger Amari idolized Cobb, and through his father, the two became close friends.
Before being drafted, Amari and his family members talked about the possibility of him being selected by Green Bay. He was fully aware of the Packer organization from his history with Cobb, and he desired to play where his mentor had. He surprisingly got his wish and more.
It is easy to see Aaron Rodgers is pleased with the return of Randall Cobb. It has even been rumored Randall is currently living at Aaron’s home until Cobbs family returns to Green Bay and settles in.
However, seeing the daily interactions between the duo during practice, their friendship does seem apparent. Team chemistry is always a positive sign, and it appears that the presence of Cobb helps keep our MVP quarterback happy and positively influences the young Amari’s development.
The rookie slot receiver is often seen taking instruction from both Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb, a great position to be in for someone so new to the NFL. A bright career lies ahead.
TRAINING CAMP NOTES
Full Contact Football
The team practicing in full pads has added pronounced intensity to practice sessions. As a result, everything is heating up, with immense excitement on the field and amongst the fans. Family Night will be highly entertaining should this continue.
Nothing But Net
The loudest crowd reaction on Thursday came with Aaron Rodgers being the sole QB to nail a 47-yard throw into a net at the back of the end zone. All tried, only Rodgers was able to succeed.
Through the first week, TE Jace Sternberger appeared to be working himself out of a job with continued dropped passes and overall poor performance.
However, that may be changing, perhaps due to pressure in the presence of second-year TE Josiah Deguara returning from injury. Nevertheless, Sternberger displayed impressive ability in the full pads workout Thursday.
In the one-on-one drills, the big TE caught numerous balls, including a spectacular one-handed grab over safety Darnell Savage.
Based on Thursday’s outing, Sternberger is looking much more like the player the Packers expected when drafting him in the third round three years ago.
In those same one-on-ones, Equanimeous St. Brown repeatedly drops more balls thrown his way than catching.
With the significant number of talented receivers in camp, there will be some difficult decisions on who to keep on the final 53 man roster. Hard to envision EQ making the team at this point.
One player who will be pressing for a roster spot is WR Juwann Winfree. The second-year free-agent player out of Colorado has been catching many balls, but more impressively, balls in tight coverage at times against first-team defenders. In doing so, it appears he is gaining respect from QB Aaron Rodgers. He has been a solid performer each day in camp.
Speaking of QB’s, Jordan Love has been consistent in one area. Throwing interceptions, and not necessarily against first-team defenders. Averaging one pick or better per practice session, Love is making rookie mistakes in judgment. In fairness, Aaron Rodgers has thrown two interceptions as well in the past two days. It is practice, however, and given the circumstances of Rodgers picks, both of his have been balls he likely would have held onto or thrown away in actual games.
Let’s Go Defense
New Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry emphasizes turning the ball over. However, across the board, a noticeable effort is made at punching the ball to create turnovers. This ball attacking style is overdue and exciting to see.——————
Thomas Doyle is a career professional chef, entrepreneur, restaurant consultant and writer for the food industry. A Green Bay resident, avid Green Bay Packer fan and lifelong season ticket holder, Doyle now can be found as a feature writer for Packerstalk.com.