Over the next two weeks, Acme Packing Company will break down the Green Bay Packers' 90-man roster to analyze each player and his chances of making the roster. That breakdown includes an expansive discussion those returning on existing contracts as well as the team's additions from the offseason.
Thursday brings the tight ends to the forefront. The Packers continue to feel the absence of Jermichael Finley, the ūber-athletic pass catcher that made life easier for his quarterback and the receivers around him. However, the team returns several tight ends that, while not field-tilters in their own right, can succeed in limited roles.
Richard Rodgers, No. 82
H/W: 6-foot-4, 257 pounds
2015 stats: 58 catches, 510 yards, eight touchdowns
Expectations have perhaps distorted how many view rising third-year tight end Richard Rodgers. He possesses arguably the best hands on the team, and has become a deadly weapon in the red zone. At the same time, teams don't usually spend third-round picks on goal-line receivers. Rodgers' inability to develop into something more contributed to the Packers' pursuit of free-agent tight end Jared Cook this offseason.
With Cook now in tow, Rodgers' role could change this season. While the big-bodied pass catcher should still see time near the goal line, Cook may see more time between the 20s where his athleticism can help stretch the field. That could mean the end of the Rodgers-in-the-flat-on-third-down play, which ranked alongside the Kuhn dive as the least popular option in the playbook.
Justin Perillo, No. 80
H/W: 6-foot-3, 250 pounds
2015 stats: 11 catches, 102 yards, one touchdown
While Rodgers serves as Green Bay's goal-line target, Justin Perillo generally sees his action as a blocker. The former undrafted free agent has garnered only 13 targets in his career, and his limited physical skillset doesn't offer much potential for improvement. The Packers don't care if Perillo becomes a superior blocking tight end and remains an ace special teamer, though.
Kennard Backman, No. 86
H/W: 6-foot-3, 245 pounds
2015 stats: Seven games played
Kennard Backman provided next to nothing for the Packers in 2015. However, he stuck around because of his tremendous physical gifts and potential to become a field-stretching receiver down the line. Now in Year 2, Backman cannot simply depend on his athleticism to shore up a roster spot. Without demonstrating improvement during training camp and the preseason, his days in Green Bay could be numbered.
Mitchell Henry, No. 85
H/W: 6-foot-4, 252 pounds
2015 stats: n/a
Coming out of the 2015 preseason, Green Bay liked Mitchell Henry enough to keep him around, though not enough to offer him a spot on the 53. That allowed the Denver Broncos to swoop in and grab him on the final cutdown, but they severed ties when injuries at another position necessitated a roster move. Henry spent the rest of the season on Green Bay's practice squad. Now, he receives a second chance to make the Packers.