Jared Abbrederis has already enjoyed his best training camp in his three years with the Green Bay Packers.
That’s not saying a lot though. In 2014, the fifth-round draft choice — three rounds behind Davante Adams, and two ahead of Jeff Janis — suffered a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during the first week of training camp.
Then in 2015, he suffered a concussion on the opening day of camp. After missing practice after practice without successfully getting through the NFL concussion protocol, he was released on September 5 and signed on to the practice squad.
So, in his first two preseasons, Abbrederis participated in a total of six practices and one exhibition game.
Many pro scouts were leery of drafting Abbrederis in the first place because of his history of concussions in college. At least a couple scouts understood that he had suffered three or four of them while a Wisconsin Badger player — though Abbrederis has claimed he only had one concussion in college.
A great many medical experts believe that multiple concussions lead to more severe or longer-lasting symptoms. It is also felt by many that a series of concussions lower one’s “concussion threshold” — meaning that less force is required to cause another such injury.
As we know, this year the league put in a new rule meant to reduce the number of kick returns. The intent is to reduce the number of serious injuries during this dangerous play — especially to those of the kick returners.
So what do we see on the Packers’ first play of 2016 against an NFL opponent? It’s Jared Abbrederis returning a kickoff.
In his four years of college, Abbrederis returned 55 punts for a nice average of 10.7 yards. In fact, as a sophomore, he averaged 15.8 yards on his 20 punt returns, third best in the country (at least 15 returns).
As a kick returner for the Badgers, he averaged 25.8 yards in his first two years. The Badgers decided not to utilize him as a kickoff returner for his final two years.
The Packers would be wise to follow the lead of the Badgers. Abbrederis is much better suited to be a punt returner than a kickoff returner. Having him returning kickoffs is an unrewarding football strategy.
What is worse, though, is that using Abbrederis on kickoff returns poses an unnecessarily dangerous health risk to this valuable homegrown talent.