The Green Bay Packers head into training camp with many tight ends fighting for a roster spot, and the starting position is up for grabs with Finley still unsigned.
The Green Bay Packers head into 2014 prepared to move on without Jermichael Finley, but he still hasn’t given up hope on returning to the team.
Finley’s season ended in 2013 when he suffered a spinal contusion after enduring a concussion a few weeks earlier. He also had a season-ending knee injury in 2010, so his health will always be a concern. However, he offers athleticism to the tight end position when healthy and can be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.
Rookie Richard Rodgers is already being seen as someone who can break out a la Finley though. He has impressed in OTAs and minicamps as he has reportedly made spectacular catches. The third-round pick played his last season at Cal as a wide receiver, so he brings versatility to the Packers offense.
One team personnel member for Green Bay made a bold prediction that Rodgers will be the opening-day starter at tight end instead of Andrew Quarless.
Quarless appeared to be a solid complementary tight end for the Packers, but he has limited blocking skills and didn’t show enough to be a full-time starter.
Brandon Bostick and Colt Lyerla are both considered dark horses to become the starter. Bostick showed flashes of potential in limited action last season. He caught his first career touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles and averaged 17.1 yards per catch.
Lyerla went undrafted due to character concerns, but he played well at University of Oregon and was even considered to be a possible first-round pick. However, the troubled tight end left the team in October for personal reasons after being suspended a game for violating team rules.
Shortly after he quit playing with Oregon, Lyerla was arrested for possession for cocaine. He will be a serious contender to start if he can play to his potential though. He finished his Oregon career with 34 catches, 565 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Ryan Taylor, Jake Stoneburner and Justin Perillo are also fighting for roster spots. Taylor has an edge over the latter two because of his previous experience and value on special teams.
Stoneburner spent the beginning of 2013 on the practice squad, but he was promoted to the active roster. He has yet to record an NFL catch though. Perillo went undrafted this year. He is a longshot to make the team, but the three-sport athlete may make the practice squad if he performs well enough.
The Packers will likely keep at least four tight ends since they have kept five in the past. If Finley is re-signed, Taylor may be sent packing. Rodgers, Quarless, Lyerla and Bostick are expected to make the roster though.