GREEN BAY – Myles White and Jake Stoneburner each got the good news on Tuesday morning. They’d both been promoted to the injury-depleted Green Bay Packers’ 53-man roster from the practice squad.
“I was just driving around and I got a phone call,” Stoneburner said. “I wasn’t sure if I was getting cut or called up.”
Both Stoneburner, an undrafted rookie tight end from Ohio State, and White, an undrafted rookie wide receiver from Louisiana Tech, were downright giddy. The news meant their lockers would be moving from the auxiliary “Green Mile” locker room to the big room, their paychecks would be a bit heftier, and they’d almost certainly be active for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field.
And then, it was time to go to practice.
“Yesterday it was pretty surreal. Getting called up, I got really excited. Just like, ‘Man, I was finally able to do it,’” Stoneburner said at his locker Wednesday. “And then today, it was like, ‘Oh, I’ve actually got to go out and perform.’
“Which is not a bad thing; I’m really excited about it. It’s awesome to be able to go out there and contribute and help this team. It’s been a dream for me to be able to step out on an NFL football field. So a lot of emotions right now, but overall I’m pretty excited.”
Indeed, the Packers are counting on Stoneburner, who was promoted after third-year tight end Ryan Taylor unexpectedly underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Wednesday, and White, who was added after wide receivers Randall Cobb (broken fibula, out at least eight weeks) and James Jones (sprained posterior cruciate knee ligament, possibly out for Sunday).
“You’ve got to be locked in. This is a perfect example. Obviously my situation and Jake Stoneburner’s situation, you can be on the practice squad one minute and the next your number is called,” said White, who made a good impression during training camp and was one of two wide receivers signed to the practice squad after final cuts. “You’ve got to be ready. And if you’re not ready, you have to face the consequences.”
Both White and Stoneburner figure to factor in on special teams. Stoneburner’s role will be particularly vital as Taylor’s replacement, since Taylor was one of the Packers’ best special-teamers and blocked a punt Sunday at Baltimore. He is normally on the kickoff coverage, punt protection, punt block/return and field-goal protection.
“Ryan was one of our best if not the best special teams player, I thought. But I’ve been watching him since I got here, and people have told me always to watch him and make sure I copied what he does out on the field on special teams,” said Stoneburner, who had a touchdown catch at St. Louis in the second preseason game but lost a fumble the next week against Seattle. "I’ve been trying to do that so hopefully it doesn’t look any different this Sunday.”
Since Stoneburner and White have been with the team since the post-draft rookie orientation camp, both coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers said they should have a firm grasp of the offense.
“I expect them to be ready to play if they’re asked to play,” Rodgers said. “Those guys are both very well coached. They care about getting better. We’ve all seen some marked improvement with both of those guys from the start of their time with us to now.
“I think it’s exciting that those guys get their opportunity. I remember when I was a young player working on the scout team, my biggest thrill was to see those guys raised up to the active roster, because I knew what they could do at practice. It’s exciting to watch those guys and see them make plays and talk to the defensive guys about how they’re giving them some fits, and then see them get opportunities, that’s enjoyable. I’ll be throwing them the football if they’re out there and they’ll be ready to play.”
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