17

April

Brandon Bostick: The Packers’ Darkhorse at Tight End

NFL, Green Bay Packers, Brandon Bostick, Green Bay Packers tight end, Packers tight end, Packers 2014 draft

Packers TE Brandon Bostick scored his first NFL touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013

As everyone continues to wait and watch for news on the football future of Jermichael Finley, the Green Bay Packers are facing a point where they will soon have to make a decision at the tight end position.

Drafting a tight end in the upcoming NFL Draft seems like a foregone conclusion for the Packers, but they’d be wise to take a long hard look at a player currently on their roster before taking a tight end too high.

That player is not named Andrew Quarless either, though he showed some promise late last season after finally getting healthy from a 2011 knee injury.

No, the dark horse to watch is Brandon Bostick.  He saw action in 11 games in 2013 and had seven catches for 120 yards with one touchdown and three dropped passes. Those three drops all came in the Week 12 tie against the Minnesota Vikings, however.  It wasn’t an overwhelming performance, but Bostick showed enough that should warrant at a least a shot at the starting job in training camp.

The undrafted Bostick beat out former fifth round pick D.J Williams and veteran Matthew Mulligan last year in camp and had shown some flashes in practice. Bostick played wide receiver for small Newberry College and the Packers knew transitioning him to tight end would take some time.

By making the roster in 2013, Bostick must have shown he was making significant progress.  During the regular season, Bostick saw action in 11 games and scored his first NFL touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Scott Tolzien.

Looking at 2014 and beyond, Bostick could be the long term answer at tight end for Green Bay. He plays in a similar manner to Finley and having a tight end with that kind of ability does wonders for the Packers’ offense. While Finley never put up “huge” numbers for the Packers, his presence on the field alone affected how teams would attack the Green Bay offense.

By inserting Bostick, the Packers would have to do little tweaking to their style of offense.  There are going to be growing pains, but the reward in this case outweighs the risk.  It would also give Aaron Rodgers one more weapon in the passing game.

16

February

Brandon Bostick Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

1) Introduction:  Brandon Bostick was another player that fans and the media alike filled with boundless optimism.  After years of “will he or won’t he” performance swings from Jermichael Finley, fans were looking for another big target to stretch the middle for Aaron Rodgers and focused on Brandon Bostick, a converted wide receiver who had spent all of 2012 on the Packers practice squad.  Could Bostick become one of the new breed of “big receiver” tight end or would this be another failed conversion project for Ted Thompson.

2) Profile:

Brandon Bostick

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 5/3/1989 in Florence, SC
  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 245
  • College: Newberry
  • Rookie Year: 2012
  • NFL Experience: 2

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Moderate.  Bostick spent all of 2012 on the Packers practice squad and was not activated, presumably because he was making the conversion from college wide receiver to NFL tight end.  However, with the impending contract dispute that would be Jermichael Finley, fans and Packers front office executives alike must have been wishing for signs of progress from Bostick in order to lower the asking price of Finley due to a serviceable replacement and at very worst a decent plan B option should Finley depart in free agency.  Add to that the uncertainty of Andrew Quarless’ play due to his recovery from a season ending knee injury and Bostick had golden opportunity to turn some heads this year.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Bostick’s highlight was obviously his game against Philadelphia, where he recorded 4 receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown.  These numbers are even more impressive when you consider that Scott Tolzein was under center for that game.  It should also be mentioned that Bostick was one of the better special teams players for the Packers this year with 5 tackles and 2 assisted tackles, good for 5th on the team.  His lowlight outside of not being used very often (he saw the least amount of snaps for tight ends outside Jake Stoneburner, who was an late injury replacement) was being sent to injured reserved after breaking his foot in week 14.

24

October

Charting Life After Finley

Much has been made rightly so about Jermichael Finley’s injury; I won’t go too much in depth because it’s been covered by several of my fellow writers but I will add that it’s great to hear that indications point to Finley avoiding a life-changing injury; ultimately the injury may cost him his career as a professional football player but at least he will be able to live a relatively normal life afterwards.  Going back to football, the question becomes “what do the Packer do now without Cobb, Jones AND now Finley?”  Obviously Finley was more a wide receiver than a traditional inline tight end and therefore could compensate somewhat for losing both Jones and Cobb but now that Finley is also out for the foreseeable future, what does the Packers wide receiver and tight end cores look like and how will they operate?  Keep in mind tight end is the joker of the Packers offense as tight ends often play inline, in the slot, as a fullback, as a move tight end and sometimes even on the outside; a lot of the Packers’ creativity, versatility and matchup problems come from moving tight ends around so seeing what they do with their tight ends is often a good indication of what their offense will operate.

I think the simplistic view is to look at body types and try to project players into Finley’s role.  Andrew Quarless is naturally the first option as he has the most experience and receiving production of the remaining tight ends.  Quarless is also a good blocker and thus likely would have seen time on offense even with Finley playing so playing him wouldn’t arouse as many suspicions as any other player.  The second option would be Brandon Bostick, a former wide receiver in a tight end body that has been with the Packers since 2012 who might be the most athletically gifted of the backup pass catchers.  The Packers obviously see something in him by keeping him this long and keeping him on the 53 man roster and his history as a wide receiver could help compensate for the more “wide receiver” like plays that Finley often made. However, just looking at body type and playing history is often misleading, Quarless has been in this situation before in 2010 when Finley was lost for the year with a torn ACL and did nothing with it and Bostick wasn’t even able to beat DJ Williams last year for a spot on the roster.

23

October

If Finley is out for the season, can Quarless do the job?

Andrew Quarless was visibly shaken by Jermichael Finley's injury. Should Packers fans worry about Quarless as the No. 1 tight end?

Andrew Quarless was visibly shaken by Jermichael Finley’s injury. Should Packers fans worry about Quarless as the No. 1 tight end?

Three years ago in 2010, the Green Bay Packers won a Super Bowl with a rookie Andrew Quarless as their starting tight end.

That year, Jermichael Finley suffered a knee injury in week six against Washington and was forced to miss the remainder of the season; Quarless stepped in and the role of the Packers’ tight end shrunk within the offense. Prior to going down, Finley was on pace for 84 receptions and 1,204 receiving yards–an average of five catches and 75 yards per game.

After Finley was lost for the season, Quarless caught two or fewer passes in 14 of the team’s remaining 16 games, including playoffs.

Fast forward to October 2013, and Finley, again, faces an uncertain future after suffering a bruised spinal cord Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Finley is out of intensive care and walking on his own, but he’ll undergo more tests before a decision is made on his future for this season and beyond.

According to sources via ESPN, there is “no specific timetable for Finley’s return to the field, but indications are that he likely will miss at least four to six weeks.” Ed Werder tweeted Tuesday that Finley’s injury was not believed to be career-threatening, although the Packers could consider placing him on the injured reserve sometime later this week.

Clearly, at this point, no decision has been made on Finley’s availability this season.

The most optimistic will point to 2010 and suggest that plugging Quarless into the lineup for Finley will be enough. But as things currently stand, the Packers’ group of wide receivers is certainly not as strong as it was in 2010.

Then, the Packers made up for losing Finley by featuring Greg Jennings as the No. 1 target, while Jordy Nelson was exceptional in the stretch run and into the playoffs. James Jones and Donald Driver held their own as the third and fourth options.

Right now, the Packers will likely head into their matchup in Minnesota with Nelson and Jarrett Boykin as their starting receivers. At tight end, it’ll be Quarless along with a combination of Brandon Bostick and others. Myles White will likely be the No. 3 receiver, like he was last week against Cleveland.

15

January

Packers News: Team keeps eight practice squad players

Packers OT Andrew Datko

Packers OT Andrew Datko

The Green Bay Packers have signed eight practice squad players to future contracts, according to the team’s official website.

Tight end Brandon Bostick, quarterback B.J. Coleman, tackle Andrew Datko, center Garth Gerhart, guard Joe Gibbs, linebacker Micah Johnson, cornerback James Nixon and safety Chaz Powell have all been signed by the team. This according to Packers general manager Ted Thompson.

Bostick was a pleasant surprise in training camp and remained on the Packers’ practice squad for the entire season. With the uncertainty surrounding Jermichael Finley’s future in Green Bay, Bostick could potentially challenge for a roster spot next season.

Coleman was selected by the Packers in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He showed impressive arm strength in training camp but was never activated on game day. He continues to be a backup quarterback-in-training for the Packers.

Datko was a seventh-round pick of the Packers last season. He was inconsistent throughout training camp and never found the field this season. With Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod returning next season, the Packers will be in much better shape at the tackle position.

Gerhart, an undrafted rookie free agent from Arizona State, and Gibbs, a first-year player out of Tennessee-Martin were both recent adds to the practice squad.

Johnson was added to the practice squad Dec. 31 after entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2010. Johnson spent time with the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals before arriving in Green Bay. He was first-team All-Southeastern Conference as a junior at Kentucky.

Nixon has been a member of the practice squad since Sept. 20. Before transferring to California (Pa.), Nixon spent his first three collegiate seasons at Temple, where he played on both sides of the ball and returned kickoffs. His best chance to crack the roster would be as a return man. Nixon averaged 25.8 yards per kick return in college.

Powell, an undrafted rookie from Penn State, was signed to the practice squad Dec. 5. Much like Nixon, Powell played cornerback, wide receiver and returned kickoffs in college.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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3

September

Green Bay Packers Fill Out Practice Squad

OL Chris Scott

OL Chris Scott becomes the Packers eighth practice squad member.

According to Packers.com, the Green Bay Packers have finalized their 8-man practice squad. Along with the reported signings of their seven training camp players, the Packers have added OL Chris Scott. He was a fifth round draft pick in 2010 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, though he started out on their practice squad. In 2011, he began the season on the PUP list, after which he was added to the active roster. He only appeared in two games, however. The Packers list Scott as a guard/tackle.

It’s not surprising that Ted Thompson has added another offensive lineman to the list, considering he kept a record-low (for him) seven players on the 53-man roster. This brings the total of offensive linemen on the practice squad to three.

Here is a list of the eight practice squad members to begin the Green Bay Packers 2012 season:

  • WR Diondre Borel
  • TE Brandon Bostick
  • QB B.J. Coleman
  • T Andrew Datko
  • DE Lawrence Guy
  • G/T Chris Scott
  • RB Marc Tyler
  • G Greg Van Roten
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Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

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