As the Green Bay Packers wrapped up their first full week of training camp, the team brought in a group of young players for workouts on Sunday. One name in particular among this group of six players should be familiar to fans of football inside the state of Wisconsin: A.J. Taylor.
Taylor played wide receiver for the Wisconsin Badgers over the past four years. After seeing sparse playing time as a freshman in 2016, Taylor emerged as a playmaker and big-play threat in 2017, when he caught 31 passes for 475 yards and five touchdowns as part of a tandem with Quintez Cephus, who was drafted by the Lions in April. Taylor then led the team in receiving yardage as a junior while Cephus was suspended, catching 32 passes for 521 yards and three scores.
Taylor’s senior year saw him take a bit of a step back in his role, however, with Cephus back on the field for the Badgers. Taylor caught just 23 passes for 267 yards and two scores in 12 games but suffered a season-ending injury — a torn Achilles tendon — in the regular season finale against Minnesota.
In this group of six players, the Packers also worked out another wide receiver, La’Michael Pettway from Iowa State. Pettway spent the first four years of his career at Arkansas, moving to Ames for his senior year as a graduate transfer. A big body at around 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Pettway caught 55 passes for 676 yards and six scores as a senior.
Hunter Thedford, a former defensive end-turned-tight end, also came in as part of this workout group. Like Pettway, Thedford switched schools as a graduate transfer in 2019, making the jump from SMU to Utah. Lightly used in the passing game, he caught just five receptions in his career.
Throwing the football to these receivers was former Louisiana Tech quarterback J’Mar Smith. Smith’s 2019 season was his finest, as he completed over 64 percent of his passes at 8.1 yards per attempt with 18 touchdowns against just five interceptions. Smith added 264 rushing yards and four scores on the ground as well.
Finally, the team brought in a pair of FCS offensive linemen: guard Fisayo Awolaja from Northern Colorado and tackle Chidi Okeke from Tennessee State. Unlike the other four, these two players were both rookies in 2019. Okeke spent most of the season on the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad, while Awolaja spent a brief period with the New Orleans Saings during their 2019 training camp but was unsigned throughout last season.
News of the workouts was first reported by ESPN’s Rob Demovsky.