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|The three rookie receivers of the Green Bay Packers had a mixed debut.
J'Mon Moore Adidas Matt Duchene Jersey , Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown had their moments, but also showed room for improvement in the Green Bay Packers' 31-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night.
Valdes-Scantling, a fifth-round pick from South Florida, had the best game of the three, catching five passes for 101 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown from No. 4 quarterback Tim Boyle.
Brown, a sixth-round pick from Notre Dame, had four catches for 61 yards, including a slick 28-yard catch-and-run to help set up Valdes-Scantling's touchdown.
Moore, a fourth-round pick from Missouri, had the toughest game of the three, catching three passes for 27 yards and dropping what would have likely been a long touchdown pass. Valdes-Scantling also dropped a pass.
"I thought they did a really good job getting off the line of scrimmage," coach Mike McCarthy said Friday.
"I thought their releases and attacking leverage, the young guys Connor Brown Jersey , frankly, did better than some of the veterans (after watching) the video. But what do we do at the end of the route? Those are things that you just need live reps. Getting out of the cut, getting to the right breaking point, catching the ball."
As has been the case throughout camp, the young receiver who stole the show was Jake Kumerow.
He isn't a rookie. He's in his fourth training camp after two years on the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad and after spending time on the Packers' practice squad at the end of last season.
Kumerow, who has drawn praise from star quarterback Aaron Rodgers throughout camp, put an exclamation point on the game with a 52-yard touchdown catch from Boyle.
But while the 26-year-old Kumerow came from Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater, he's had the advantage of NFL camp experience and has avoided the inconsistency the three rookie draft picks have exhibited.
That inconsistency drew Rodgers' ire late in the week after a particularly sloppy practice on Tuesday that McCarthy called "our worst practice of the year."
After that practice, Rodgers, who ran the scout-team offense because he wasn't going to play against the Titans, listed players who were doing things the right way, but left the three rookie receivers off that list.
While he never mentioned them by name, he left little doubt which players he was referring to for making repeated mistakes.
Valdes-Scantling had a leaping 51-yard catch on a deep pass by DeShone Kizer in the third quarter. He also made a nice in-the-air adjustment to pull down Boyle's pass on the touchdown, which gave the Packers a 24-10 lead with under four minutes left.
"Definitely. That's our leader Marshal Yanda Jersey ," Valdes-Scantling said when asked if he took Rodgers' criticism to heart. "You've got a Hall of Fame quarterback over there, and if he's telling you that you're not doing it right, you've got to change what you're doing. It's just that we've got to be pros all the time. Can't be pros for just three-fourths of practice, you've got to be it all the time. That was the only thing."
Moore's biggest disappointment came in the second half, on a deep ball from Boyle on third-and-8 from the Green Bay 35-yard line. While Moore did a terrific job of getting open on the go-route, he dropped the ball at the Titans 29-yard line. Had he caught it, it likely would have been a 65-yard touchdown.
"I'm going to move forward for sure," Moore said. "But it's definitely going to put a fire up underneath me and definitely have me dig deeper."
Malcolm Butler says he and his fellow members of the Tennessee Titans‘ secondary have set high goals for this season, and All-Pro safety Kevin Byard and cornerback Logan Ryan make it clear just how much they expect from themselves.
”We want to be, if not the best, one of the best secondaries in the league this year,” Byard said.
Ryan adds: ”Our expectations are to be the best we can be, whatever that may be. We expect it and want to be tops in the league.”
Bold talk, and yes it’s only June as the Titans prepare to wrap up their offseason program Thursday with the end of a three-day minicamp. Tennessee certainly has invested heavily in its secondary Sonny Milano Jersey , enough that the players in this unit believe they should be a vital piece of a defense being molded by new coordinator Dean Pees and head coach Mike Vrabel.
The Titans have used draft picks and spent millions of dollars in remaking the secondary under general manager Jon Robinson over the past three offseasons. Tennessee selected Byard with the first pick of the third round in 2016 and cornerback Adoree Jackson with the 18th selection overall in 2017 . Ryan was a top addition as a free agent in March 2017 followed by signing Butler this past March – both signed away from New England.
Add in safety Johnathan Cyprien, another free agent addition, and it’s a group that wants to set the tone for the defense on the field.
”That’s all talk right now,” Byard said. ”At the end of the day, we’re going out here, we have the opportunity to actually be on the field right now and work with each other, and get the communication down, learn the defense, and going against a tough receiver crew in the Titans. That’s what we’re doing every single day. We know what we’re chasing, but this is all talk right now. We have to go to work.”
Tennessee has room for improvement. The Titans ranked 25th against the pass, giving up 239.3 yards per game. They tied for 18th with 12 interceptions thanks to Byard tied for the NFL-high with eight . Four other Titans each had an interception apiece, and only LeShaun Sims and Tye Smith remain on the roster with Byard.
Jackson was one of just two rookies in the NFL to start every game at cornerback, and only Tyrann Mathieu of Arizona played more snaps (1,261) than Jackson (1 Kyle Lauletta Color Rush Jersey ,260). But the cornerback who had five interceptions as a junior at Southern California before leaving early for the NFL still is looking for his first pick as a pro.
”My dad always tells me about it, so that’s probably my biggest critic that I have,” said Jackson, who noted he returned his first interception for a touchdown as a sophomore.
Ryan intercepted 13 passes over his first four seasons in the NFL with the Patriots. That earned him a three-year deal with the Titans in March 2017, but he went all season without picking off a pass for the first time in his career. Butler has eight interceptions over his past three seasons, which helped earn him a five-year contract from Tennessee.
”I’m pretty sure they’ll bump that number up from zero this year,” Butler said of Ryan and Jackson. ”Everyone wants the ball. We’ve just got to play hard and just play as a team and everything will work itself out.”
Vrabel brought in Kerry Coombs from Ohio State to coach the Titans’ secondary, a man with 35 years of experience making his NFL debut with Tennessee. Coombs isn’t ready to compare their secondary to anyone else right now even as he loves their chemistry, athleticism and work ethic.
”I can’t wait to go play against somebody else to see,” Coombs said. ”But I think our goal obviously is to be in that conversation.”
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