GREEN BAY – During training camp before the 2006 season, ol’ Brett Favre raised a few eyebrows when he called that year’s team “the most talented team that I've been a part of.”
Favre would later take issue with the way the media portrayed his statement – and how some reporters ran to members of the 1996 Super Bowl XXXI championship team to get their takes on the pronouncement – and that the second part of said statement about the team also being “the most unproven, inexperienced team that I've ever played on” somehow got lost in translation.
Aaron Rodgers was in his second year as Favre’s understudy when that little kerfuffle occurred, so you know that the Green Bay Packers’ current quarterback – a guy who seldom says something without having thoroughly thought it through first – knew just what he was saying about his wide receivers on Tuesday.
“It’s a deep group,” Rodgers said following the team’s third and final open organized team activity practice of the offseason. (There are two more closed OTAs on Wednesday and Thursday). “I think it could be as deep a group as we’ve had here.”
Remember, the 2012 group was so deep that the team kept six receivers (Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb, Donald Driver and Jarrett Boykin) and was so talented that by season’s end, Driver, the franchise’s all-time leading receiver, was sixth on the depth chart.
Now, with Jennings in Minnesota, Jones in Oakland and Driver in retirement, this year’s group consists of Nelson, Cobb, Boykin, unproven 2013 holdovers Myles White, Chris Harper, Alex Gillett and Kevin Dorsey, and three rookie draft picks: Second-rounder Davante Adams, fifth-rounder Jared Abbrederis and seventh-rounder Jeff Janis.
And that’s where Rodgers, like Favre, had one caveat to go with his statement.
“It might not be the big names like we had in the past when we had the whole stable of guys, but I think you could definitely see us keeping six guys there in that position because we are pretty deep group,” Rodgers added.
Favre made a similar receiver-specific comment in 2001, when he called Antonio Freeman, Billy Schroeder, Corey Bradford and a young Driver his deepest receiving corps. It’ll be interesting to see what happens behind Nelson and Cobb, as Boykin (49 receptions) emerged last season but the other than White, who had nine catches last year, no one else has ever caught a regular-season pass. (Last year, Harper saw time on the 53-man roster; Gillett was on the practice squad; and Dorsey spent the year on injured reserve.)
“Obviously, Boyk coming along from last year is going to get a lot of looks, and then the young guys as a whole are coming along,” Rodgers said. “I don’t like to make a lot of predictions in helmets and shorts, but there's been a lot of plays made. Harper was making a lot of plays before he tweaked his hamstring (and missed Tuesday’s practice). Davante's making some plays. All those guys are improving. I think really spots four through six, potentially, it's pretty wide open.”
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