Diondre Borel and the Battle to be the Packers 6th Wide Receiver
Diondre Borel had an opportunity to separate himself from the competition in the race for the sixth wide receiver spot on the Packers’ roster Thursday night.
Did he do it? Well, not really. But he also didn’t take a major step backwards. Like the whole battle-for-the-sixth-receiver-spot storyline has been thus far, Borel was just kind of meh against the Chargers. Not terrible, but far from great.
Things didn’t start well for Borel. He got drilled by San Diego’s Demorrio Williams on a first quarter kickoff and fumbled. Coughing the ball up is the surest way to find yourself in Mike McCarthy’s doghouse and off the team, so Borel put himself in a deep hole right off the bat.
Borel returned three more kicks/punts on Thursday, including a 34-yard return late in the first half where he flashed some of the speed and burst that make him an intriguing prospect.
Borel finished with three catches for 13 yards and was targeted five times by Graham Harrell. Those numbers are nothing to brag about, but he didn’t have any drops and he definitely didn’t look overmatched.
Like he showed on the 34-yard return, Borel looked quick after he caught the ball — as quick as someone can look when they’re immediately being swarmed by defenders, anyway.
I’d like to see what Borel could do one-on-one against a would-be tackler. If McCarthy really wants to see what Borel is made of, perhaps he’ll call a quick screen in the next exhibition game to see if Borel can get by the first defender and make something happen in the open field.
Maybe Borel would have gotten that chance later in the game, but he exited early with a groin injury, joining a long list of injured Packers on the sidelines.
To make the WR situation even more muddled, Dale Moss looked good and had a nice catch on the sideline.
The race for the sixth WR position is no more clear now than it was before training camp. Nobody has staked an early claim to the slot based on performance, and Borel didn’t exactly seize his opportunity on Thursday.
There’s still time for Borel, Tori Gurley or Moss to catch fire, but if they don’t, the Packers might just decide that five WRs is plenty, especially if Donald Driver continues to look good in camp.
The battle for the extra WR slot was supposed to be one of the biggest storylines in camp. So far, it’s been kind of a dud, and might end up not being much of a storyline at all.