Andrew Quarless spent the entire 2012 season recovering from an awful knee injury suffered in 2011. As a rookie, Quarless showed some flashes of serious talent in the receiving game, and he worked hard to become a very effective blocker the following season. Many Packers fans are hoping for him to put both pieces together to become the team's most well-rounded tight end in all phases of the game.
Quarless got off to a bit of a slow start in 2011, as Finley returned to the lineup after missing most of the 2010 season. Quarless started two games and only caught three passes before suffering his knee injury took place in New York against the Giants and he was lost for the season.
To say that Quarless was "replaced" last season is a bit of a misnomer, as he did not practice in training camp and started the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. He was activated in November in the hopes that he could make it back on the field, but his rehabilitation apparently did not allow that and he was returned back to injured reserve again a few weeks later. Tom Crabtree was the second option at tight end in his absence and while Crabtree did score a few highlight-reel touchdowns, he was allowed to leave in free agency without a qualifying offer. D.J. Williams has gradually moved into a little more of an H-back role, while Ryan Taylor remains a special teams stalwart while making little to no impact on offense.
The start of training camp will take place a little over 18 months after Quarless' ACL and MCL were repaired in January of 2011. That combined with the fact that the team was hopeful enough for his return in 2012 that they put him back on the active roster for a few weeks is encouraging.
2013 Roster Preview
Bob McGinn of the Journal-Sentinel notes that Quarless was the best blocker in the unit in 2011 before his injury. That alone should make a healthy Quarless the second option among the tight ends currently on the roster. Even if the Packers draft a tight end like Tyler Eifert or Gavin Escobar in the early rounds, Quarless' blocking ability will get him on the field. So long as his knee is back to full strength and he shows up to camp in good shape, he will likely be a very important piece to the Packers' puzzle on offense.