Packers top wide receivers being absent from OTAs doesn’t mean they aren’t working


GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – JANUARY 24: Robert Tonyan #85 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates his touchdown with teammates in the third quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the NFC Championship game at Lambeau Field on January 24, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – All of the chatter surrounding the Packers OTAs has been the absence of Aaron Rodgers, but he’s not the only one missing.

Rodgers’ top wide receivers still haven’t been at the team’s practices. That’s something that may be going under some people’s radar considering the rumors circulating around Rodgers’ relationship with Green Bay, but there could certainly something of substance there.

One thing to remember, though, when talking about OTAs that everything going on in Titletown right now is optional for the players.

“The first thing you have to understand is this is all option. You know, the practices are optional for them and I think players have to do what’s best for them”, says Packers Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.

With Jordan Love taking first team reps and Green Bay not having their main receivers there to catch the balls, it’s something the team is trying to look past.

“We have that motto to just not blink and that’s kind of the way we have to move forward with everything”, Packers Wide Receivers Coach Jason Vrable.

While coaches talked with the media Thursday afternoon, Vrable said something that caught people’s attention.

“I talk to the guys a lot. Up until two weeks ago, we were doing virtual. They were doing everything, showing up for every meeting. Obvisouly I want them here because, like I said, both on and off the field they make us better”, says Vrable. “Hopefully next week they show up and we’ll be ready to roll.”

So, there is or was communication between Vrable and the receiving core prior to OTAs and the receiving core was doing everything virtually including participating in team meetings.

Green Bay’s coaching personnel has stressed that this is a time for guys, who may not regularly, to get reps. Whether that’s Jordan Love or young wide receivers, it’s giving guys more opportunity. Fans or the organization may not look at it this way, but there could be a silver lining in all of this.

With less bodies catching the football, it’s giving Hackett a chance to try different people out in different situations, routes, and more.

“We’ve been able to utilize some tight ends in situations and that can happen in a game. That’s happened in a game before. If certain people go down and then a tight end might have to go in to act as a wide reciever”, says Hackett. “We’re just trying to utilize different people in different spots and seeing what those guys can do.”

Will this create some thinking for Hackett and his offensive scheme? Maybe. It could give him a different outlook in different situations heading into the 2021 season. It could also give a chance for guys like third-round draft pick Amari Rodgers to develop into the new offensive weapon Green Bay hopes for.

Coaches are excited for what Amari Rodgers can bring to the Packers offense. A spark that can help whoever is throwing the balls at QB. Even though the coaching staff understands every rookie will need to develop into their own in the NFL, the intangibles Amari Rodgers can bring to the Packers is invaluable.

“I think Amari is doing a very good job. He’s not intimidated by what we’re handing to him. He’s a student of the game and you can see that. He’s got a natural feel for the game in these limited reps. I think that’s only going to develop more over time and I’m excited about the progress he’s making”, says Hackett.

Looking forward to next week, the two biggest questions remain: Will Green Bay’s top receivers show up to mandatory minicamp? and will Aaron Rodgers be throwing the ball to them? Those are the two questions being asked heavily right now in Titletown.

By the end of next week, the questions to those answers will be more clear.

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