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.
Sep 23, 2014 · 6:07 PM EDT
Midway through training camp, Brandon Bostick looked like the Green Bay Packers' best chance to replicate what Jermichael Finley offered them at the tight end position.
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.