Yesterday we took a look at one player, C.J. Wilson, who needs a big performance in OTAs and minicamp to set himself up well to earn his roster spot for the 2013 season during training camp. Today we look at another Packer who needs a good performance this offseason to keep a grip on his roster spot: tight end Andrew Quarless.
This name might come as a bit of a surprise, but I would argue that Quarless is as big an unknown moving into Monday's OTAs as any veteran on the roster. As you know, Quarless' ACL and MCL in his knee late in 2011. He was then activated off the PUP list midway through the 2012 season but was never able to suit up for a game and was put back on injured reserve shortly thereafter.
But you already know that about Quarless. There are two major motivations for him to want to put up an impressive performance in OTAs and minicamp: first, he will need to make a good impression now that his leg is apparently full healed, but second (and perhaps more concerning) is the fact that there are a number of other tight ends on the roster who will be vying for roster spots.
The big positive for Quarless is that he showed decent receiving ability in 2011 while also being one of the team's best blockers, if not the best, at the tight end position. Though the addition of Matthew Mulligan adds a good in-line blocker to the group, his receiving tools aren't at the level of Quarless'. Still, Mulligan's blocking seems to make him a pretty clear lock to make the final 53-man roster.
D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor still are listed as tight ends on the roster, but they play more of the H-back role than the typical in-line tight end position manned by Quarless. They'll be competing for similar roster spots, but it seems unlikely that their camp performances will make a major impact on any decision on Quarless' status.
The biggest threat to Quarless making the roster might be the pair of young players--Brandon Bostick and Jake Stoneburner. Each has very good receiving skills because of their background as wide receivers, so if either of them shows some sparks as blockers and Quarless sputters in his first full camp back from injury, it seems plausible that the veteran could see his roster spot stolen away.
For the record, I fully expect Quarless to be an active and productive member of the Packers in 2013. Before his injury, he showed the skills and potential to be the most well-rounded tight end on the team. However, after missing over a year of football activity, he'll need to prove this off-season that those tools are still present and that he is fully healthy and ready to be a major contributor this season.