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Thursday, September 25, 2008 7:02:54 PM(UTC)
[size=18]Group has been used a lot in protection[/size]
[img_r]http://graphics.jsonline.com/graphics/packer/img/news/sep08/xlee0924.jpg[/img_r]Green Bay - In Mike McCarthy's offense there is a lot of leeway for the tight end to catch passes like a wide receiver, but unless he can block there is absolutely no room for him anywhere.
Lately, Donald Lee and Tory Humphrey have been less pass catchers than pass blockers, combining for 11 receptions for 85 yards and no touchdowns. Three of those receptions (for 33 yards) were by Lee during desperation 2-minute drills in which Lee replaced injured James Jones as a fourth receiver at the end of the Dallas loss Sunday night.
Given the Packers strength at wide receiver it isnt exactly a necessity to get the tight ends the ball, but if teams give the Packers a lot of two-deep safety looks to account for the receivers, there will be more opportunities for the tight end to run up the middle of the field, sort of the way Jason Witten did all night long against the Packers on Sunday.
I think its a little early for that. Weve played three games, McCarthy said of questioning the output from the tight ends. Im pleased with the production of the tight ends. Our completion percentage wasnt where it needed to be Sunday night in that Dallas game, but other than that I think based on, once again the opportunities they have been given, I am pleased with their production.
There may be a lack of opportunity, but there has been no lack of presence. Lee has been on the field for all but 20 of the teams snaps from center and either Humphrey or rookie Jermichael Finley has joined him on a quarter of his snaps.
There probably would have been more opportunity for Humphrey had he not been limited to just one play against the Cowboys because of a knee injury. But in that game, the tight ends were consistently used to help handle Dallas pass rush until the final couple minutes of the game.
Its week to week, Humphrey said of the tight ends role. It depends what the defense is giving us. Last week, we got a lot of opportunities because we were in 2-minute. It just depends on the situation. Our wide receivers are making a lot of plays right now.
During his first year, when he was starting two and sometimes three rookie offensive linemen, McCarthy regularly kept tight end Bubba Franks in the backfield to help protect quarterback Brett Favre. Lee and Humphrey have both taken over that role and are sometimes in the backfield together when Aaron Rodgers is in the shotgun formation.
McCarthy often prefers to have a pair of 250-pound protectors around Rodgers when he knows hes going to throw the ball. Humphrey said the tight ends have to know all the same protections and read all the blitzes the way the quarterback does because they are expected to pick up whichever players arent blocked at the line of scrimmage.
Sometimes theyll sneak out of the backfield and make themselves available and other times theyll stay in and block. Its different than just lining up next to the tackle and doing what tight ends normally do.
Its the body type that weve gone to at the position, creating better angles for them to do their job and trying to do as many different things out of the same look, McCarthy said of playing the tight ends in the backfield Everybody strives for that on offense. So its really just about playing with better angles to take advantage of their athletic ability.
One of the reasons the Packers like their tight end group is it has decent speed and athletic ability. Humphrey and Finley are particularly athletic and have the ability to stretch the field in a league in which many teams are playing Cover-2 defense and leaving a seam open down the middle of the field.
So far, Rodgers has completed just one pass of more than 15 yards to a tight end and it was exactly the kind of deep-middle throw that should be productive. Lee split the safeties for a 26-yard gain against Detroit and was the target on another similar play that was broken up.
But against the Cowboys, Lee was basically a glorified receiver once Jones went down and all the deception of coming out of a three-point stance and running downfield was lost. Against Tampa Bay this week, there may be more traditional opportunities for the tight ends, if the Buccaneers dont blitz a lot.
Wed like to get them a little more involved, Rodgers said of the tight ends. Im excited about Jermichael Finley hes done a nice job seeing what he can do on the field. (But) its all about what were trying to do against them schematically. Last week, we wanted to spread them out a little bit.
Thursday, September 25, 2008 7:33:17 PM(UTC)
I like the guys we have, but I miss the days of Chmura and Jackson.
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