Packers’ rookie receivers have so-so preseason debut
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The three rookie receivers of the Green Bay Packers had a mixed debut.
J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown had their moments, but also showed room for improvement in the Green Bay Packers’ 31-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night.
Valdes-Scantling, a fifth-round pick from South Florida, had the best game of the three, catching five passes for 101 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown from No. 4 quarterback Tim Boyle.
Brown, a sixth-round pick from Notre Dame, had four catches for 61 yards, including a slick 28-yard catch-and-run to help set up Valdes-Scantling’s touchdown.
Moore, a fourth-round pick from Missouri, had the toughest game of the three, catching three passes for 27 yards and dropping what would have likely been a long touchdown pass. Valdes-Scantling also dropped a pass.
“I thought they did a really good job getting off the line of scrimmage,” coach Mike McCarthy said Friday.
“I thought their releases and attacking leverage, the young guys, frankly, did better than some of the veterans (after watching) the video. But what do we do at the end of the route? Those are things that you just need live reps. Getting out of the cut, getting to the right breaking point, catching the ball.”
As has been the case throughout camp, the young receiver who stole the show was Jake Kumerow.
He isn’t a rookie. He’s in his fourth training camp after two years on the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice squad and after spending time on the Packers’ practice squad at the end of last season.
Kumerow, who has drawn praise from star quarterback Aaron Rodgers throughout camp, put an exclamation point on the game with a 52-yard touchdown catch from Boyle.
But while the 26-year-old Kumerow came from Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater, he’s had the advantage of NFL camp experience and has avoided the inconsistency the three rookie draft picks have exhibited.
That inconsistency drew Rodgers’ ire late in the week after a particularly sloppy practice on Tuesday that McCarthy called “our worst practice of the year.”
After that practice, Rodgers, who ran the scout-team offense because he wasn’t going to play against the Titans, listed players who were doing things the right way, but left the three rookie receivers off that list.
While he never mentioned them by name, he left little doubt which players he was referring to for making repeated mistakes.
Valdes-Scantling had a leaping 51-yard catch on a deep pass by DeShone Kizer in the third quarter. He also made a nice in-the-air adjustment to pull down Boyle’s pass on the touchdown, which gave the Packers a 24-10 lead with under four minutes left.
“Definitely. That’s our leader,” Valdes-Scantling said when asked if he took Rodgers’ criticism to heart. “You’ve got a Hall of Fame quarterback over there, and if he’s telling you that you’re not doing it right, you’ve got to change what you’re doing. It’s just that we’ve got to be pros all the time. Can’t be pros for just three-fourths of practice, you’ve got to be it all the time. That was the only thing.”
Moore’s biggest disappointment came in the second half, on a deep ball from Boyle on third-and-8 from the Green Bay 35-yard line. While Moore did a terrific job of getting open on the go-route, he dropped the ball at the Titans 29-yard line. Had he caught it, it likely would have been a 65-yard touchdown.
“I’m going to move forward for sure,” Moore said. “But it’s definitely going to put a fire up underneath me and definitely have me dig deeper.”