Tha Sports Junkies 101

Ted Thompson’s Methodical Approach Continues To Produce Players

Ted Thompson - NFL Eleven Warriors via Flickr


Thompson Continues to Show He Knows How to Build an Offense

Since the day Ted Thompson took over as GM of the Packers he has made a point of compiling weapons for his future Hall of Fame QB Aaron Rodgers. He has done so through the NFL draft and undrafted free agents, with an uncanny ability to avoid mistakes.

Currently on the Packers preseason roster they have 12 wide receivers, 5 running backs, and 6 tight ends, all but two have never taken a snap in the NFL for anyone but Green Bay. The exceptions being newly acquired TE Jared Cook and 5th string TE Mitchell Henry.

Thompson and Green Bay have created an atmosphere where once you put on the Green & Gold, you are part of something special.

No matter your background or story, if you are willing to work hard and learn, the coaching staff in Green Bay will make sure you develop. This years exhibition period has again shown the depth and ability scattered around the skill positions.

Friday night’s game in San Francisco was yet another example of the potential waiting to explode onto the scene for Thompson and his Packers, starting with local Wisconsin native Jared Abbrederis.

Abbrederis provides a story that everyone can get behind. Formerly a walk-on at the University of Wisconsin as a QB, he immersed himself into the wide receiver position and transformed into the school’s all-time leading pass catcher with 202 receptions through his four years.

The 6-1, 3rd year receiver has made a name for himself as a tremendous route runner and reliable option out of the slot after being a 5th round pick in 2014. Although he has only caught 15 balls in his short career, regular and post-season, he has earned trust and respect from his QB, Rodgers.

“He’s a guy that has phenomenal preparation. He’s always in the right spot, he has incredible body movements when it comes to not telegraphing routes, and he just finds a way to get open all the time.” Rodgers explained in an interview with ESPN Wisconsin’s “Wilde & Tausch” “So, he’s continued where he left off last year and had a phenomenal camp.”

Against the 49ers he saw limited action with the 1st team offense and Rodgers, but made his impact felt with the 2nd unit.

Early in the 3rd Quarter QB Joe Callahan was able to find Abbrederis on a 18-yard touchdown off a beautifully run QB roll-out to the front corner of the endzone. It was just a sample of his route running ability and value to an offense reliant on timing patterns. He finished the game with 3 catches for 25 yards but made the most of his chances.

On the theme of Jared’s, it only took free-agent pickup Jared Cook three plays into his first drive with his new QB to show a glimpse of his new role. On a third and four play backed up in their own territory, Rodgers found Cook over the middle on a slant play for a first down and 19 yards.

For Packers fans, it was a welcomed sight to see one of their TE’s finally find a hole over the middle and gain some YAC (yards after catch). This is something that has been missing since the loss of Jermichael Finley, 3 years ago.

Cook caught 4 balls for 54 yards on the day, all resulting in first downs. After a season where the Packers struggled to convert on third downs it was an exciting step for the offense. Cook knows the standards that Rodgers demands, and as he told after Friday’s game it starts with trust.

“It’s being there when the quarterback needs you and building that trust,” Cook said. “I think that’s the most important thing to know they can count on you in situations like that.”

Backup QB Callahan made sure to locate Cook in crucial situations as well. He was able to connect him on two separate occasions to extend drives on 3rd and 4th down conversions.

The most impressive pass and catch coming on a roll-out to the right where he found Cook running an out route toward the sideline. Instead of heading out of bounds he turned up the field and accelerated past a would be tackler for a 13 yard gain with an excited Rodgers watching from the sideline.

The insertion of Cook with the returning Nelson and veteran Randall Cobb, who had his first touchdown of the preseason from Rodgers in the 2nd quarter, is going to be deadly for all who try to stop them.

Perhaps the two most unlikely stars of week 3 were a pair of undrafted rookie signees, WR Geronimo Allison out of Illinois and RB Brandon Burks out of Troy.

Allison has been making noise during training camp through highlight plays on a regular basis, but hasn’t had a chance to translate that to game action. Friday he had his opportunity to show Thompson why he should be kept around.

He didn’t get any snaps with the 1st team, but Callahan and the 2nd group looked to him often throughout the 2nd and 3rd quarter. Like Abbrederis, Allison only had 3 catches but made sure they counted as he totaled 78 yards.

The longest of his 3 catches was a “Top 10” worthy pitch and catch from Callahan following a play where the Packers took a sack resulting in a 10 yard loss. The young quarterback had to scramble once again away from pressure and heaved a ball downfield reminiscent of a young Doug Flutie toward Allison. The Illinois prospect made a great mid-air adjustment to the ball and came down with a 51-yard reception over the defender, setting the Packers up at the 49ers’ 19.

This play directly led to the aforementioned Brandon Burks moment to shine. Burks was given a bigger spotlight than normal after 3rd string back John Crockett went down with a shoulder injury. He took the chance and literally ran with it.

Burks took a hand-off and cautiously ran through a large hole on the left side of the line but was cut off and forced to go inside the tackle, he then made one more cut outside to daylight for a game clinching touchdown.

The young skill players of Green Bay have been extremely impressive so far in August. Cutting a roster down to 53 filled with this many possible impact players will not be easy for Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy.

Green Bay’s young roster hopefuls will have one more chance to make their case for a spot next Thursday against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.