It was a little bit of a surprise when the Green Bay Packers put receiver Jake Kumerow on injured reserve to open the season. Kumerow, a camp standout, injured his shoulder while summersaulting into the end zone in week 2 of the preseason.
At that point, he led the league in preseason receiving yards with 190. He didn’t play another game because of the injury. Then, sent to IR.
However, there are two other things that are significant here.
Despite his production and Rodgers’ approval, the Packers put Kumerow on injured reserve to stash him. That is to say, the injury was not of the season-ending variety. Kumerow could have perhaps returned as soon as week 2 of the regular season.
Typically, when they make such a move with a young player, they end up keeping him there all year. Then they bring him back next year and let him try to make the team again. Sometimes, they just release the guy with an injury settlement.
Point is, not many guys drafted in the late rounds or undrafted guys have been sent to IR and actually gotten a return engagement with the Packers. Kumerow is one of those undrafted guys.
The second significant consideration is the Packers current receiving corps. And there are two considerations with that.
The first is health. Geronimo Allison has missed two games, first because of a concussion and then because of a hamstring. Randall Cobb has missed three games because of a hamstring.
It’s worth pointing out that Cobb has not been able to stay healthy for years, right now.
Allison is expected to be back after the bye and Cobb may be too, so the Packers maybe don’t NEED another receiver right now.
The second is the rookies.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling has been thrust into a prominent role with Cobb and Allison out. He has 12 catches for 212 yards and a touchdown on the season. Dude can legitimately stretch the field.
If given the reps, Valdes-Scantling might end up being the most-successful rookie receiver Aaron Rodgers has ever thrown to. He could easily surpass the 446 yards Davante Adams gained with Rodgers as a rookie in 2014.
And yes, that is the best Rodgers has ever done throwing to a rookie receiver.
Equanimeous St. Brown hasn’t been as flashy, but he definitely has shown flashes. He has just four catches on the season, but they’ve gone for 108 yards. That sideline catch — his only catch on the night — on the final drive against the 49ers was nothing less than impressive.
J’mon Moore, the highest draft pick of the three, hasn’t found his footing yet. He has just one catch on the season.
The thing is, the Packers kept these guys around because they drafted them. They think they have long-term potential. Honestly, Moore had no business beating out Kumerow for a roster spot. St. Brown probably didn’t either.
And yet they did.
So that says something. It says the Packers want to see these guys develop.
It has been mentioned that Kumerow doesn’t have the upside of, say, Moore. And yes, Kumerow played at Division III UW-Whitewater. What isn’t mentioned when someone is making that argument is that he played at Illinois before that. The same school Geronimo Allison played at.
And Allison is currently the Packers’ No. 3 receiver. And he’s proven to be a pretty decent one.
Guess what else? Both of those guys went undrafted.
So I will have a hard time buying an argument that a guy drafted in the fourth round has a bigger upside than an undrafted guy that Aaron Rodgers loves.
Antonio Brown, the best receiver in the league, was a sixth-round pick. Donald Driver, the Packers’ all-time leading receiver, was a forgotten seventh-round pick. And that is not to suggest Jake Kumerow will have that success, but he deserves a chance.
Are we going to get to find out?
Maybe. When asked if the Packers could use one of their return from injured reserve designations on Kumerow, we got this.
“We talked about that a little bit today, but that’s a decision we’ll have for you next week,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.
Not the “hell yeah” we wanted to hear, exactly.
And if the situation couldn’t get more complicated… well, of course it could!
Receiver and return man Trevor Davis was also put on injured reserve to start the season. Both players are eligible to practice when the Packers return from the bye. They can’t play until week 8, but a decision will likely be made on both of their fates before then.
Davis was projected as the team’s No. 1 return man entering the season. However, he has offered nothing as a receiver in two seasons. Eight catches, 94 yards.
That’s in total.
Those are Jeff Janis-like numbers.
Well, slightly better, but still. It’s clear Rodgers doesn’t want to throw Davis the ball and McCarthy doesn’t want to put him on the field.
But Davis was a draft pick and Kumerow wasn’t…
Just like Moore was a draft pick and Kumerow wasn’t…
So, the dilemma.
The Packers aren’t going to carry eight frickin’ receivers. These seem to be the viable options.
- Both Kumerow and Davis stay on IR. They’re given a chance to make the team next year and we likely never hear from them again.
- Injury settlement and, so long!
- Kumerow or Davis is designated to return and that costs someone else a roster spot.
- The Packers cut Moore, hoping they can bring him back on the practice squad and bring both Kumerow and Davis back.
The final point to note is this. Each team only gets to designate two players to return from IR.
It is highly unlikely the Packers will use both of those designations at this point in the season and that they will use them on two receivers.
Based upon the scenarios above, I would handicap this as follows.