At tight end, the Packers like what last year's third-round pick, Richard Rodgers, showed late in the season, when he became more involved in the offense, but it's still too early to say whether he'll be the playmaker that Jermichael Finley was before his neck injury. Behind Rodgers and Andrew Quarless, the Packers are thin. Once a promising prospect, Brandon Bostick was released on Monday, a month after he botched the onside kick recovery in the NFC Championship Game.
Neither Rodgers nor Quarless established themselves as a consistent threat as a fantasy tight end. The Packers may look to shore up the position this offseason.
Monday, November 10, 2014, 2:10pm
Coach Mike McCarthy hinted last week this was coming, that the Green Bay Packers' tight ends -- even seldom-used Brandon Bostick -- might have a bigger role in the offense than they did in the first half of the season.
But even with that forewarning, it was still stunning to see quarterback Aaron Rodgers throw the first two of his six touchdown passes in Sunday night's rout of the Chicago Bears to tight ends. Bostick, who had one catch for 2 yards all season, was the recipient of the first, on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Andrew Quarless got the second, on third-down from the 4-yard line.
It was the first time since Week 3 of the 2011 season, when Jermichael Finley had three touchdowns against the Bears, that Packers tight ends have caught more than one touchdown pass in a game. And it was the first time since Week 2 of 2007, when Bubba Franks and Donald Lee had touchdowns against the New York Giants, that two different Packers tight ends have caught touchdowns.
On Bostick's TD, the team lined up without the likes of WRs Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb on the field and it was Bostick on the receiving end of a play-action pass. Eventually, Nelson and Cobb got involved but if Rodgers can add TEs as targets it's only going to make him more productive. While Bostick and Quarless aren't quite top-notch fantasy tight ends just yet, they do potentially take away targets and TDs from those Packers who are owned.
The issue is that Packers TE Brandon Bostick, a former college wide receiver, hasn't mastered all the tight end assignments and TE coach Jerry Fontenot refuses to put him on the field until he does. If Bostick shows in a game he's not on the same page as quarterback Aaron Rodgers, he might as well head for the bench anyway because he's not going to see the ball after that.
"I need to feel more comfortable with the things we're doing in practice," Fontenot said. "I need to see that he's making split-second decisions, the right decisions. We're still getting there."
Fontenot made it clear that if it were just a matter of Bostick running pass routes from a slot position, things would be different. But the tight ends have to block and run routes from an in-line position, line up wide as a receiver and serve as fullbacks on some running plays.
They probably have to know more about the offense than everybody but Rodgers. Fontenot said he would not put Bostick in the game without some mystery as to what he was going to do.
Bostick played some last year, but the Packers were in dire need after Jermichael Finley went down. Now they are comfortable with rookie Richard Rodgers and veteran Andrew Quarless. Bostick will have to prove that he is completely comfortable in the offense before he'll start seeing consistent snaps.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014, 6:07pm
Even if he did not win the starting job, Bostick had put himself in position to play a major role in an offense that thrives when it has an athletic player who can operate down the seam like Finley did before his neck injury last season.
So why hasn't Bostick played a single snap on offense yet when he seemingly offers an antidote to the ills of the Packers' passing game?
The leg injury he sustained Aug. 16 kept him out through Week 1 of the regular season, but that is no longer an issue. Bostick has taken his full workload on special teams in each of the last two games, and special-teams coach Shawn Slocum said there's nothing wrong with the way Bostick has run down the field on the coverage teams.
Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements made it sound Monday that Bostick's practice habits also have not warranted playing time. When asked whether Bostick can elevate his play to match what it was in training camp, Clements said: "Sure, he can. It's just a matter of being consistent and getting back into the groove." The Packers could use him and right now is a sleeper candidate, especially in deeper leagues as roster sports are getting more valuable during the start of bye weeks. He's at least a player to monitor.
In the search for Jermichael Finley's replacement, it's a close race between Packers TEs Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick and rookie Richard Rodgers. Ultimately, Rodgers, a third-round pick, might end up as the top tight end among the group long term. But so far in camp and through the first preseason game, Bostick looks like he's the most ready-made replacement for Finley's big-play ability in the passing game.
Whoever plays starter's snaps (if anyone) for the Packers will hold fantasy value, but the team could elect to rotate Bostick and Rodgers, limiting both players upside until an injury occurs.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014, 11:18am
No one from the Packers tight end group has emerged as the favorite to replace Jermichael Finley, although Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick and rookie Richard Rodgers have had their moments (both good and bad).
Athletically, Bostick is very reminiscent of Jermichael Finley. He has had trouble staying healthy, but has made plays when in the lineup. He could very well win the starting job.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014, 12:52pm
He stood out in the OTA and minicamp and has done the same so far in training camp. But is it enough to make the Packers forget about Jermichael Finley, who remains a free-agent awaiting medical clearance to return from last year's neck surgery? Rodgers gives the Packers the same type of athletic presence as a receiving tight end, but he remains unproven as a blocker.
An NFL source told ESPN.com that Jermichael Finley's tweet ("Let's Try This Again. #GreenBay") did not mean the Packers had cleared Finley medically or were in negotiations with him. The source said "there’s nothing going on" with Finley and the Packers in terms of contract talks.
Finley last met with the Packers' medical staff on May 28 in what was described at the time by a source close to the situation as “a formality” because Finley had not checked in with the Packers recently.
According to USA Today, Finley was expected to undergo more tests this week. It is possible Finley's meeting with McKenzie is to review those results.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 6:13pm
After Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski, depth gets hazy, which is surprising, since the Patriots were expected to go hard after a tight end in the NFL Draft or in free agency. So far, though, the Patriots have come up with only the rookies, Justin Jones and Asa Watson.
Michael Hoomanawanui is a serviceable tight end and is likely to make the roster, save for an unforeseen development from the rookie tight ends or a free agent signing. The only reason he's not a lock is because the Patriots' options remain so open, especially with Jermichael Finley and Dustin Keller still available in free agency.
In terms of fantasy, no one after Gronk will likely make an impact. In fact, you can probably expect the Pats to use more WRs in their formations, since they are pretty deep at that position, but especially if Gronk isn't ready to go.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 9:42am
TE Jermichael Finley's quest to return to the football field continues at the doctor's office.
The free agent tight end will undergo further testing on his injured neck Wednesday and send the results to all 32 teams, Finley told USA Today's Tom Pelissero.
Finley recently suggested he was hopeful for a reunion with the Green Bay Packers. However, he told Pelissero the Pittsburgh Steelers have been interested enough to show him the makings of a contract.
"Pittsburgh have showed me a couple deals, but we all know the money ain't what it's supposed to be," Finley said Monday. "If I quit the game right now, I can take tax-free money, and that's a difficult thing that I'm going through with myself ..."
That "tax-free" money Finely referenced is a $10 million insurance policy he took out that he could cash in if he never plays another snap.
If Jermichael Finley's days in Green Bay are over, Packers TE Andrew Quarless is probably the safest option to begin the season. But after shining throughout the spring, the rookie Richard Rodgers could be the starter sooner rather than later.
Rodgers (6-foot-4, 257 pounds) ran the 40-yard dash in 4.87 seconds coming out of California. That's two-tenths of a second slower than Finley ran back in 2008.
But Rodgers spent a lot of time working from the slot at Cal, the same place Finley did much of his damage while in Green Bay. Rodgers also has strong hands, changed his body while at Cal, and made plays throughout the spring.
The Packers have never been shy about playing rookies under head coach Mike McCarthy. And Rodgers could be the latest to get a shot.
"Richard Rodgers ... had a very good spring," McCarthy said. "There haven't been too many days where we have not walked off the field and reviewed film and felt very good about the things he is doing.
"The game is very natural to him. I've been very pleased with Richard so far."
Whoever plays starter's snaps for the Packers at tight end will be fantasy relevant. Rodgers is having a great summer and could emerge as the starter if Finley doesn't return to the team.
Thursday, June 26, 2014, 9:46am
Intrigued by TE Brandon Bostick's receiving ability — he finished with 136 receptions for 1,935 yards with 19 touchdowns — the Packers developed the college WR on the practice squad in 2012 and then bumped him up to the 53-man roster in 2013 when he caught seven passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. The blocking has been up and down. And Bostick couldn't quite perfect the seam route, key for whoever wins the No. 1 job. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will thread that needle between the linebacker and safety.
Coach Mike McCarthy said last week that Bostick must be consistent.
"His body type is definitely a challenge for the opponent with some of the things he's able to do," McCarthy said, "particularly his ability to get down the field in coverage. So I think he definitely took a step last year and I'd like to see him do the same."
During the final week, Bostick pulled down a touchdown pass on a fade route over rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, a play that instantly brought back visions of veteran Jermichael Finley. True, Bostick is strikingly similar to the tight end still awaiting medical clearance.
Yet even Bostick agreed with McCarthy on the consistency, saying he needs to make plays like this one "every play... every time."
Saturday, June 21, 2014, 8:54am
Packers TE Andrew Quarless indeed finished last season healthy and was the starter after Jermichael Finley's early-season injury. Quarless never made an appearance in the locker room during the media availability periods, and HC Mike McCarthy does not have to disclose injury information -- and usually does not -- during the offseason. We may have to wait until training camp to find out.
Friday, June 13, 2014, 11:41am
Packers TE Brandon Bostick missed the first two weeks of OTAs while waiting for clearance to return from foot surgery. He finally returned this week. Bostick, a former college receiver, showed some signs of playmaking ability late last season after Jermichael Finley's season-ending neck injury. He averaged 17.1 yards on seven receptions before landing on injured reserve in December. Bostick had a screw placed in his foot to repair a broken bone.
"I thought Brandon made some real strides by the end of the season," tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot said earlier this offseason. "His effort level was really high. He seemed to have a better understanding of what he was being asked to do. As with everything, great effort can overcome a lot of bad technique. In his case that was happening at a much greater level as his technique improved. Obviously, it's a setback, being not able to practice and getting the timing with the quarterback, getting the timing with the blocking unit up front and getting in protection mode. So he's going to have some hurdles when he gets back and he's able to go full speed just to get his body angles right, his alignment in order and being able to trust his fundamentals again. I think it's going to take some time. The sooner we get him back, the better."
Whoever wins starter's snaps at tight end for the Packers will be fantasy relevant in 2014.
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