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Cheese Curds, 7/12: Packers prepare to stretch defenses in multiple directions

Amari Rodgers and MVS should play key roles to help Matt LaFleur get defenses out of position and force them to cover more ground.

Green Bay Packers Mandatory Minicamp Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Central to the philosophy of Matt LaFleur and other NFL coaches of his ilk is the concept of stretching defenses. On the Green Bay Packers’ roster, LaFleur has one of the more dangerous vertical threats in the league, as Marquez Valdes-Scantling emerged took a step forward as a big-play receiver in 2020.

MVS still needs to improve his consistency, as his drop rate remains too high and his overall catch rate too low. But there can be no question that the threat of him running over the top is something that defenses must account for on every play.

Meanwhile, the vertical direction is not the only way to spread out a defense. Spread formations have been expanding the horizontal space for years, while pre-snap motion and plays like jet sweeps have done so as well. Now the Packers seem to have a receiver who is well-suited to stretching defenses horizontally, which should complement MVS’ vertical abilities.

How big of an impact will rookie Amari Rodgers have in 2021? That remains to be seen. But bet on him getting a few schemed touches per game to help open up room laterally for the Packers’ offense.

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Rodgers could well be the horizontal stretch guy, putting stress on defenses from sideline to sideline and on jet sweeps and the like. He could also be a downfield slot option as well, and that doesn't even touch on his potential impact on returns.

Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling Makes Big Plays - Sports Illustrated
Meanwhile, MVS remains the vertical stretch threat, and he led the NFL in yards per reception in 2020. What the Packers will do with him when his contract expires after the upcoming season remains to be seen, and it will probably depend on how he performs this fall.

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