Though the season has just started and the Green Bay Packers are only three practices into training camp, there might be some concern for the role Andrew Quarless will play in the offense this year. Quarless, who hasn’t passed his physical yet due to a hip flexor injury, has been sidelined for all of the practices thus far.
With Jermichael Finley being eased back into action after his knee injury last year, this has given draft picks D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor ample time on the field.
D.J. Williams in particular has drawn a lot of attention. Coming from the University of Arkansas, he has been praised for his great hands, fighting spirit, and versatility as an H-back type of player. And so far in camp, he has proven every one of those distinctions to be true. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has connected with Williams on multiple occasions.
“One thing I can say is he’s going to be a hell of a player,” said Packers safety Nick Collins. “He’s very fluid, knows the game, understands the game. I just can’t wait to see him in live action.”
While this is great news for the Packers offense and the tight end position, it is sobering news for Andrew Quarless.
Heading into his second year, it was expected that Quarless would make a jump in performance from his rookie season, and many people were excited at his potential. After Jermichael Finley went on injured reserve in October, Quarless took on a larger role in the offense, essentially becoming the new starter.
To the dismay of fans, however, he failed to produce at a significant level. Granted, it was only Quarless’ rookie season, and he still had a lot to learn.
But that’s what makes his current situation so disconcerting. Having to stand on the sidelines while a rookie steals the spotlight is no way to prove to the coaches (or even the fans) that you have what it takes to play a starting role. Compounding the problem was the absence of OTA’s and mini-camps during the lockout that could have helped Quarless make his second-year strides.
Hopefully this trend of training camp issues doesn’t continue for Quarless. Last year, in his rookie season, he showed up to camp overweight and in less-than-ideal football shape. Mike McCarthy remarked on some initial sluggishness, yet also pointed to his natural football instincts, saying it was just a matter of continuing to improve. But has he?
As many have noted, the tight end position for the Packers is very crowded right now.
It’s doubtful that Ted Thompson would release Andrew Quarless in his second year, and there is still plenty of time for him to get in on the action and prove his worth. However, he will need to make the most of every rep he gets when he does return. It could be the difference between playing a starting role and playing a back-up role in what looks to be a high-octane offense.
Andrew Quarless and D.J. Williams are both 22 years old and were both fifth round selections in their respective drafts. So far, though, it has been Williams in the spotlight. He came to camp in shape, healthy, and with a fire to perform. And while it could just be a matter of bad luck, Quarless has fallen behind in the running due to his injury.
The tight end position battle will definitely be something worth watching this preseason. It could even get exciting if Quarless jumps in with guns blazing, since he will probably need to.——————Follow @ChadToporski