What Are the Packers Options At Tight End

There are still decent available options for Green Bay

Tyler Davis tore his ACL and is out for the season. The unfortunate injury opens a hole at tight end depth for the Green Bay Packers, even though they used two top 100 draft picks to fill the position, getting Luke Musgrave in the second round and Tucker Kraft in the third. Both young players will be extremely important for the Packers plans — especially Musgrave, who was on the field for the 12 snaps Jordan Love played against the Cincinnati Bengals on Friday.

But, beyond them, the team only has Austin Allen as a true tight end — Josiah Deguara and Henry Pearson are TE/FB hybrid types. According to head coach Matt LaFleur, the Packers are open to add more options.

"Everything is on the table,” said LaFleur. "I know Gutey and his staff are going to keep their eyes open, in terms of if there is an opportunity out there. And quite frankly, you're always making adjustments as a coach, in terms of who you have from a personnel standpoint. That's just the nature of this game. You have to try to do your best to put your best product out there. If that's how we have to proceed, then we will adjust that way."

So, the Packers can proceed at different ways:

Stand pat
While depth is important, the Packers have enough bodies to go through training camp and preseason games. That would mean larger roles for Musgrave and especially Kraft, who would become the primary in-line blocking option. Austin Allen would also become more important, with a real shot to make the 53-man roster. Moreover, Henry Pearson, slated to be an h-back type, might be tested as a classic tight end. For practice purposes, the Packers have already made a change. Andre Miller, a former tight end who was signed by Green Bay last week as a wide receiver, moved back to his old position on Monday's activity.

Marginal depth
Do you know when an NFL insider tweets: "Packers have worked out X, Y, and Z players" and you have to Google to find out their positions and general situation in the NFL? Well, this kind of player might be what the team adds if they feel they just need a camp body. For the offense it might not matter that much, but it does for special teams, when Tyler Davis had a big role. It also depends on what the Packers plan to do with their third preseason game, against the Seattle Seahawks. If every starter will rest, they will need more depth to field the team.

Free agent signing
Ok, Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis have signed with the Chicago Bears. But even if it's so late in the free agency process, there are still decent options available. The most intriguing one may be Maxx Williams, who has spent time with the Baltimore Ravens and Arizona Cardinals in the league. He had a 63.1 PFF grade last season, so he's still an average to above average player. Another option is OJ Howard. He hasn't been good for a while, which led the Las Vegas Raiders to cutting him last week, but his first-round pedigree and receiving upside might entice the Packers to give him a chance. The available list also includes Cameron Brate, Adam Shaheen, Ryan Griffin, Kyle Rudolph, and Stephen Anderson.

Trade
Brian Gutekunst is not exactly known as an active general manager, but he has actually made several moves to acquire pieces through different avenues. Since he became the GM in 2018, he has traded for DeShone Kizer, Antonio Morrison, BJ Goodson, Randall Cobb, Isaac Yiadom, and Corey Bojorquez. If that's the route the Packers want to go, the best option is probably Albert Okwuegbunam. The Denver Broncos already had Greg Dulcich, and they also traded for Sean Payton favorite Adam Trautman. That could make Albert O expandable. Another option is Austin Hooper, from the Las Vegas Raiders. He has a vet minimum base salary and a $ 500 k roster bonus based on how many games he plays. They also have Michael Mayer and recently signed Jacob Hollister, so trading Hooper doesn't seem absurd.

Losing Tyler Davis is not a primary concern for the Green Bay Packers season, but the team has different options to approach the situation, both in the rest of the preseason and, more importantly, for the regular season.

Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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Wendell Ferreira covers the Green Bay Packers for Zone Coverage and Cheesehead TV. He is a Brazilian journalist with over a decade of experience covering the NFL, soccer, NBA, and MMA. Follow him on twitter at @wendellfp  

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10 points
 

Comments (52)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Coldworld's picture

August 15, 2023 at 11:15 am

Run with Allen, see what he can do. Wait for cut downs/releases.

13 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

August 15, 2023 at 03:43 pm

Agree, CW...there will be ST type Davis TE replacements at cutdown. Maybe not as good as Davis who came to camp ready to go.

Until then, let Deguara play more TE snaps, less H back. With all the motion and lots of 12 personnel being dedicated to the IOL Offense, I think this can be Deguara's best chance to shine as a Packer.

And see if Cornhusker Allen can play.

1 points
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Since'75's picture

August 16, 2023 at 10:15 pm

Yea, the loss of Davis and his 61 career receiving yards are going to be missed.
The trick is, not over reacting to the loss.

Luckily we have Austin Allen to fall back on.

Maybe we change Deguara's designation back to tight end?

Then they get back his 371 career receiving yards along with 2 TD's at tight end.
A veteran.

What do Musgrave, Kraft, and Allen all have in common?
None have yet to play a down in an NFL game.

But at least Jordan Love has been given all the tools a first year starting QB needs, right Gute?
*****
Truth be told, the receiver room has more experience than the tight end room, but not by much.

-1 points
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splitpea1's picture

August 15, 2023 at 11:20 am

Maybe they should stand pat for the time being and wait for a cut. But I have no idea how long it would take Bisaccia to train someone to fill Davis' role on STs. Allen apparently was an adequate ST blocker in college. Some of the players mentioned in the free agent section either have limited ST experience or haven't had a huge amount of snaps there in a few seasons. So unless a good opportunity comes along, developing who we've got might be the best course of action.

9 points
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T7Steve's picture

August 15, 2023 at 11:29 am

Go with heavy sets on the line and set up play action when the D tries to load the box to counter.

Still have the fantasy of seeing Caleb Jones lining up next to Nijman and seeing who can stop that monster push.

8 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

August 15, 2023 at 12:36 pm

I too think Mt Caleb is probably better at guard. It also says quite something if it takes guys 6'9 and 6'7 to equal the strength of the left side of our line. Put Tom at C and we might have something!

4 points
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dobber's picture

August 15, 2023 at 01:53 pm

Used to be that they didn't like guys bigger than about 6'4" or 6'5" at guard or center because it was harder to see and throw over them...that seems to be changing.

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

August 15, 2023 at 05:42 pm

That and guards typically need to get low, not allow them selves to be stood up and moved back. They don’t have room to dance like a T, even if they can. It’s pad level …

2 points
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Leatherhead's picture

August 15, 2023 at 11:29 am

I think that despite the injury to Davis, the Packers have plethorically abundant options at TE.

First, always remember that on 90% of plays the TE is a blocker or a decoy/alternate receiver. We just lost a guy who would have helped, but Kraft and, IMO, Austen Allen will fill that void. 25+ snaps each, maybe a target or two each game.

Musgrave is going to require some redefinition as to what a TE is. It's too early to get a full picture, but I think it might be more helpful to think of him as a big slot receiver. The early returns are that he's going to be a difficult guy to match up with, just like Watson is.

This is Green Bay. We use the TE as a 6th offensive lineman (Kraft, Allen). We like big slots, I cannot lie. As Lazard shows, they come in kind of useful in the running game. I also think that putting Watson-Reed-Musgrave on the field forces teams to play nickel or run a big risk of giving up a big play, and that means six run defenders on the field against our six Olinemen and Jones/Dillon. This is good math.

If we add a TE, it'll be because Kraft and Allen can't get their guy blocked in practices or scrimmages. That wouldn't be a good sign.

12 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

August 15, 2023 at 12:41 pm

Worse, if neither Kraft or Allen are great blockers, we seem unlikely to add someone better. Maybe after cutdowns Gutey steals someone off a PS?

I still like the idea of an O lineman to take Mercedes Lewis' role. Might be a good use for someone under 300#? Meaning Empey or Hanson.

-1 points
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Leatherhead's picture

August 15, 2023 at 12:59 pm

I think Kraft and Allen will be fine, but I'm hoping there aren't any more injuries.

Regarding using an OT as a TE, I've seen them used as your #3 TE, in a power/goal line formation. Kevin Barry, of U-71 fame, was used as our 3rd TE and just blocked down on edge rushers that were much lighter, with devastating effect. Check the records from our 2003 team and see what Ahman Green did that year.

3 points
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dobber's picture

August 15, 2023 at 12:54 pm

"plethorically"

WHOAH--someone just turned this up to 11...

6 points
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greengold's picture

August 15, 2023 at 01:18 pm

LOL...

"Yeah. It's louder."

2 points
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TKWorldWide's picture

August 15, 2023 at 10:02 pm

“Why not make ten louder and have that be as high as it goes?’

“These go to eleven.”

(As a public service, I used to show that clip to my class in school. Some things must be preserved!)

3 points
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TKWorldWide's picture

August 15, 2023 at 01:46 pm

You had me at “plethorically abundant”!

4 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

August 15, 2023 at 03:11 pm

Followed by a body shot of "we like big slots, I cannot lie", and while I was reeling a "this is good math" for the knockout blow. Leatherhead: common sense mixed with deep knowledge of the game, and a flair for the written word. What's not to like?

6 points
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Leatherhead's picture

August 15, 2023 at 06:59 pm

Thanks Leotis. You're too kind. But I do like it when people get my jokes, and you were the first guy I recognized here as a guy who has an appreciation of the absurd.

6 points
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TKWorldWide's picture

August 15, 2023 at 09:59 pm

I’d like to be considered for that list as well!

5 points
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GregC's picture

August 15, 2023 at 02:02 pm

All indications are that Musgrave is a TE, plain and simple. He lines up in the TE spot, and he blocks and catches passes. He's a better receiver than a blocker, but lots of TEs are like that. Most of their blocking involves chipping, helping out on double teams, or picking up blitzes. I think Musgrave can be coached to do those things adequately. He may not be so bad at it to begin with.

6 points
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T7Steve's picture

August 15, 2023 at 02:16 pm

Exactamundoe!

1 points
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dblbogey's picture

August 15, 2023 at 12:03 pm

Musgrave and Kraft should be very good additions, but as rookie TE's, history would suggest they may not have much impact early on.

2 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

August 15, 2023 at 12:43 pm

Musgrave surely is set to be a force as a receiver, Kraft seems to need more time. Would be nice if he comes along as a surprise.

4 points
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greengold's picture

August 15, 2023 at 12:21 pm

BJ Wilson was in GB yesterday for a visit. He's an OT who was All-Conference at Div II Quincy University. His Freshman season he was 6-6 240, and he played TE. He added weight, moving to OL as a Redshirt Freshman at 275 in 2018, grew to 300lbs in 2019, as a Sophomore, 315 lbs as a Junior, and 320 lbs as a Senior at LT.

You know, the way the Packers played Mercedes Lewis, Wilson might make a fine Tackle Eligible/U71 addition, or simply one helluva massive TE.

Just a thought...! LOL.

I looked up the trade options, and, hard NO. All of those guys seem highly unreliable. I'd rather stick with Austin Allen and see what he can bring for 2023, and as Coldworld alluded to, maybe find a gem after roster cuts to 53, if needed.

4 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

August 15, 2023 at 12:46 pm

I bet one of the other 31 teams will be trying to hide somebody on their PS. The question is, can Gutey find them before anybody else does? Would be great if BJ is a mauler; Zierlein's report on NFL.com says no, but what's he done since then? All three of these have serious weaknesses, but the reports are at least a year old. I'm still thinking somebody straight out of TC 8/29 will be better.

1 points
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greengold's picture

August 15, 2023 at 12:57 pm

It's called SPIT BALLIN'!!! :P

LOL

Interesting. If any of my friends here like reading some of the best draft profiles, I suggest steelersdepot. WOW. They've gone the extra mile on many of the players we discuss, and have been for years. I've found them to be consistently good, time & time again, going quite a ways back.

Being Reid measures in at 6-4... he might make a good iOL conversion! Especially with that wingspan. He really needs the kind of development this Packers staff is really quite good at doing.

He wasn't called a "draft diamond" for nothing. Sometimes you find them, and I'm 100% certain Gutekunst's staff knew of him quite well.

https://steelersdepot.com/2023/04/2023-nfl-draft-player-profiles-louisvi...

1 points
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Leatherhead's picture

August 15, 2023 at 01:19 pm

Probably not coincidentally, Spofford has an article about Deguara today.

I'm going to make some assumptions. I assume that Jones/Dillon, or Watson, handles the ball on the majority of our offensive plays. It seems like they would like to get Musgrave involved, which is only going to leave about 15 opportunities for everybody else combined.

Then you have these guys like Doubs and Reed and Toure .....you've got guys to carry the mail. What we're looking for from that TE spot is a guy who can get his guy blocked. And that guy, for now, is going to be DeGuara, backed up by Kraft.

2 points
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greengold's picture

August 15, 2023 at 01:53 pm

Love me some Spoff!!!

You could be right about Deguara becoming the big dog Y TE in the house for now. And, maybe we roll with that. My guess is no though, just because of his importance to all the jet concepts we have yet to see employed.

Kraft is going to have to will himself to become starter ready for this team. OR, we use another OL to do the exact same job Mercedes Lewis did. I keep asking myself, why the hell not? While Kraft is immersed in his in-line technique training, along with the required strength & conditioning? I could see that.

It would allow Deguara to do all the jet concept work from the FB/HB.
--
CHECK THIS OUT:

In 2018, the Titans with Matt LaFleur at OC, wound up adding a FB October, 29th 2019. Jalston Fowler. I recalled looking this up years ago when LaFleur was hired, just to see how differently he used his RBs.

Titans lost 2 in a row. Fowler, by this time, was ready. This is where Derrick Henry became Derrick Henry, whose rushing totals prior to adding a FB never eclipsed 57 yds that season.

After only about 1 month of FB Jalston Fowler becoming acclimated with what the Titans wanted to do offensively, the same Henry, who had just 40 and 30 yds his previous 2 games, busted loose for 238 rushing yds, on 17 carries.

The following week? 170 on 33 carries. Then 84. Then 93 to finish out the season. LaFleur knows the importance of a FB.

--

LaFleur wants to use a FB. Musgrave is going to get all of that F stuff. Maybe Kraft splits some time at the Y TE with an OL...??? Maybe Kraft won't need to!!!

Maybe you're right, LH, and Deguara takes over the Y. He's not built for it though.

I can't help but think back to how Gutekunst went up and drafted Deguara special for LaFleur, taking him at #94 of R3. About a round or two too early many thought, myself included. That's how much Gutekunst wanted LaFleur to have Josiah Deguara on his team. Now, with Aaron Rodgers gone, LaFleur's probably dying to use Josiah Deguara exactly as intended.

1 points
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HarryHodag's picture

August 15, 2023 at 01:23 pm

While it might seem odd, I don't think the Packers will make any major personnel moves at tight end other than a street free agent if more injuries happen.

I think Gute and MLF are going to go with this team come hell or high water. The primary concern is still the salary cap. They would like to flush as much dead cap out this year as possible to make upcoming years more flexible. But that doesn't mean this team will stink. If/when Gary gets back and Stokes too they will have lots of talent.

They have some big personnel decisions coming up on key players currently on the roster and taking on another veteran contract is probably not in the cards.

9 points
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Packers0808's picture

August 15, 2023 at 01:25 pm

All those who boohooed me for clamoring to sign Lewis, just like I knew someone would get injured we needed him. Oh well, Too freaking late now!

-11 points
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stockholder's picture

August 15, 2023 at 01:43 pm

Lewis should have been gone 3 yrs. ago.
And everyone boohooed me.
Out with the old and in with the new.

1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

August 15, 2023 at 02:22 pm

Get faster, open up the offensive scheme.

8 points
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greengold's picture

August 15, 2023 at 03:01 pm

We might have enough receivers…!!!

Four-wides could wreak some havoc.

2 points
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stockholder's picture

August 15, 2023 at 03:50 pm

The Run And Shoot Offense- (Detroit Lions)
You remember that? Mouse Davis.-

2 points
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Packers0808's picture

August 15, 2023 at 04:48 pm

Yes so get out! And they still boohoo you on everything else!

-1 points
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GregC's picture

August 15, 2023 at 01:45 pm

I still wouldn't want him. He's ancient, and he's basically an extra offensive lineman. I want tight ends who can catch passes. The whole point of the position is that they need to block AND catch passes.

2 points
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Packers0808's picture

August 15, 2023 at 04:49 pm

Ummm with all the switching they need to keep trying, point is moot isn't it?

0 points
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Packers0808's picture

August 15, 2023 at 04:52 pm

Ummm what exactly did Davis do in 2 seasons, no more maybe less than Lewis. Lewis is a much better blocker and how many drops did Lewis have when targeted?

-1 points
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croatpackfan's picture

August 17, 2023 at 03:33 am

I believe he had drops, I do not know how many, but he has several fumbles also, and that was and is worrisome.

0 points
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T7Steve's picture

August 15, 2023 at 01:53 pm

I don't remember anyone not liking Lewis.

I think they were all rooting to go young and letting this team grow up together.

Lewis was a must with a banged-up O-line. Now the line has no excuse to need a TE that solely helps out the tackles in run blocking or pass protection. We want weapons that will help in that regard. If the D has to respect them as a pass catching threat, even if they don't catch a pass, it's a win.

1 points
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dobber's picture

August 15, 2023 at 02:09 pm

I think the key is Wendell's statement above where he says it's hard to say what Davis' role on offense would be, but he's a core ST player. They don't have to have a TE to play those ST snaps...they're looking for a player with a certain size and skill set or set of aptitudes. They might get that in an OL or an OLB or a DL.

Some of the players on the list above are variations on the failed pass-catcher theme. Some are more blockers and less pass-catchers. In the end, I think any TE they bring in will probably answer the question: what were their plans for offensive snaps for Davis? If they really planned on him seeing an increased role, and maybe scarfing up Lewis' snaps, can they cover that with the guys in-house or do they need to find a guy with a different skill set? Austin Allen is first in line as that long, tall, extension of the OL...can he block enough for the role they imagined? Remember that there are cap implications, potentially, for bringing in someone new.

It's also possible that they'll move away from that dedicated blocker dynamic altogether and try to make the most of what the younger guys they have do well. Adjust and evolve....but I can see several scenarios where they don't augment the TE room at all before Week 1.

3 points
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greengold's picture

August 15, 2023 at 02:29 pm

One of our ILBs or OLBs can take over Davis' "run down and block/tackle" ST snaps.

All the trade possibilities mentioned in the article are garbage.

Agree we just roll with what we got.

2 points
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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 15, 2023 at 08:43 pm

Austin Allen did 8 reps on the bench. I think people are kidding themselves when they talk about Allen as an inline blocker, at least in 2023. 33 and 5/8th inch long arms are good, but not so long that it should affect his bench reps a lot. By scouting reports, his punch lacks power and while he is a willing blocker, he was no great shakes at it. GB is using a lot more 2 TE sets. Can't have three rookie TEs when two of them can't block.

As for STs, Davis led the team with a whopping 346 4T snaps. His loss just made Eric Wilson's roster spot more secure, and everyone like Wilson who can't play except for STs.

GB is going to need another TE who can block in-line.

0 points
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dobber's picture

August 16, 2023 at 02:52 pm

"Austin Allen did 8 reps on the bench."

That was a year-and-a-half ago, though. Scouting reports said that he was a capable drive blocker (i.e. lower body) but lacked upper body development. Significant progress could have been made with a year-plus in an NFL weight program. I'm not saying he's going to go out and put up 23 reps today, but a lot can happen in that amount of time.

I recognize that I regularly tout Lewis' offensive snap share to show how important that Y-TE has recently been in the Packers' offense, but that doesn't mean that they aren't shifting away from that application (or don't plan to use Kraft/Musgrave in tandem?). You might be right, and pure Y TEs--all block, no catch--are not hard to find. But if they didn't think they could cover what they planned to do with Davis offensively with the guys in house, they'd probably act quickly to find someone.

1 points
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ko40489's picture

August 15, 2023 at 02:12 pm

I don't understand all the anxiety over Davis' injury. He caught 8 passes in 2 seasons. He was only on the roster for special teams. They've still got the 2 rookies and Deguara. That's enough TE's. There's enough young talent on the team that there's going to be tough decisions on other positions. I feel bad for Davis, but his loss opens up a roster position for someone else who can make a bigger contribution.

11 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

August 15, 2023 at 04:11 pm

Davis was having his best camp in 3 years. He obviously worked very hard in the offseason. Very unfortunate for the young man.

3 points
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packerfanroy's picture

August 15, 2023 at 04:11 pm

Any TE worthwhile is probably already in someones training camp somewhere at this point. They might have to wait for cutdowns, probably from another Shanahan/McVay offense.

ST snaps will come from someone already on our 90 man.

Only thing to wonder is whether they have Deguara take those TE snaps. That would leave Pearson as the only FB/H-back or if they could just limit the FB/H-back role in the offence if Pearson isnt up to the task... An outside the box solution to think about.

0 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

August 15, 2023 at 04:18 pm

By bares week, the Packers will know if Deguara can produce playing TE with this revived MLF Illusion of Complexity offense.

I think he is well suited for it. He can block and catch. And he's big enough as a move TE at 6'2" 240 because he also brings speed and strength.

Ironically, might just work out if he now gets more TE snaps vs taking most of his reps as a FB/H back.

0 points
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Ima Payne's picture

August 15, 2023 at 05:31 pm

I just dont know how many TE's they think they need? You just drafted two young guys and you have another. maybe two others so whats the big deal. I think the packers use the te's more for blocking then catching anyways. Play on

0 points
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Untylu1968's picture

August 15, 2023 at 05:38 pm

You piss with the c😁ck you got, and let the young guys learn and develop. It'll pay in the long run..

1 points
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TKWorldWide's picture

August 16, 2023 at 07:37 am

I prefer dual threat tight ends rather than guys who are one dimensional: “just a blocker”, “just a receiver”. Keep the defense off balance.

2 points
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vin0770's picture

August 16, 2023 at 01:06 pm

Thinking about this yesterday and was wondering who’s the TE that they’d line up to run the ball? Was that supposed to be Davis? So no Big Dog, so who was supposed to be that run certain blocking TE? Don’t they need one if they have a bunch of not great blocking options?

0 points
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TKWorldWide's picture

August 16, 2023 at 02:39 pm

I think the jury’s still out on how well 88 and 85 block.

2 points
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