An elite tight end can be a devastating weapon for an NFL offense. The Chiefs have Travis Kelce. The Patriots had Rob Gronkowski. Tony Gonzalez was one of the most fearsome matchup nightmares throughout his career.
But the Green Bay Packers do not have that right now, despite having the highest cap number for a tight end of any team in the NFL. Jimmy Graham’s contract costs the Packers $12.67 million in cap money this season, almost two million more than Kelce. And while Kelce has 17 receptions for 284 yards and a touchdown through three games, Graham has just three catches for 30 yards and a score, all coming in the first contest of the season.
Now, he’s on the injury report with multiple ailments, and despite Matt LaFleur’s insistence that he needs to get Graham more involved in the game plan, questions abound as to why. Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan are demonstrably better blockers than Graham, and even practice squad call-up Evan Baylis has shown more ability in that area this preseason. Meanwhile, Tonyan looks like a better athlete at this stage of his career than Graham, while Lewis has provided a few small sparks on occasion. In total, the Packers’ tight end group has just eight catches for 85 yards and one score, numbers that simply will not get it done.
There’s also the potential to use a certain muscle-bound fullback in some traditional tight end opportunities as well, as Danny Vitale has experience roaming around the formation as an H-back in college.
All told, the Packers need better play from this group. Giving more snaps to players not wearing #80 seems like the best plan for the immediate future.
Jimmy Graham's injuries could create more chances for fullback Danny Vitale | Packersnews.com
Graham has another injury now that is keeping him from being a full participant in practice. After being listed as a projected DNP on Monday, he was given a Limited status on Tuesday. If he is wither limited or unable to play on Thursday, could that mean more opportunities for the Packers' fullback?
It’s time for the Packers to turn to Robert Tonyan at TE | Packers Wire
Instead, it seems that Tonyan should be given some more chances. He got just 17 snaps to Graham's 24 last Sunday, but he almost hauled in a great touchdown reception. Let's get Big Bob loose, Matt!
Rodgers: Time for Packers offense to 'do our part' | ESPN
Better production from the tight ends should help the offense overall, but there have been incremental gains in each game so far. Rodgers and company need to find a way to have sustained success, and with the Eagles' secondary being banged-up, this could be the perfect opportunity.
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The Packers' edge rushers got major assists from other players on a few of their sacks of Joe Flacco on Sunday. Z's big play on a third-and-goal from the two was the result of some excellent coverage, as was Rashan Gary's first sack late in the game.
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