1) Introduction: The Packers signed Crabtree to the practice squad late in the 2009 season, then the gritty tight end surprised by making the Packers 53-man roster out of training camp in 2010. Despite a recent revolution at the position, Crabtree is a throwback player who’s primarily asked to block and be a contributor on special teams.
Weight: 245 lbs.
3) Expectations coming into the season: The Packers drafted two tight ends in April, including one (Ryan Taylor) who possessed a skill set that resembles Crabtree’s. Five tight ends then came to camp with a chance to crack the 53-man roster, including Crabtree, and all five ended up making the team. Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson weren’t willing to give up Crabtree’s blocking and experience on special teams. Expectations for 2011 were that Crabtree would reprise those far from glamourous roles.
4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Crabtree played 342 snaps, second among Packers tight ends, and 247 of those snaps came in a run or pass blocking role. Pro Football Focus had him for one sack allowed with one pressure and one hit. His role as a receiver was limited. After catching just four passes in 2010, Crabtree hauled in six for 38 yards and his first regular season touchdown. His long was 15 yards against Atlanta. He dropped two of his nine targets, including a ball that was low and away in New York and a third down in the playoffs that would have given the Packers a new set of downs.
5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: The Packers employed Crabtree as a blocker but he was far from the team’s best in that area. Second-year player Andrew Quarless was quickly turning into the team’s best blocking tight end when a horrific knee injury in New York stole the rest of his 2011 season and put his availability for next year in question. That’s probably good news for Crabtree, because his role in the offense was getting hard to pin down moving forward. While Crabtree gives maximum effort, he’s probably too small to be an effective in-line blocker. His true value lies on special teams, where Crabtree has been a top tackler and willing blocker for two straight seasons. As I’m sure he has gotten used to, Crabtree will need to fight his tail off again next August to remain a part of the Packers’ 53.