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Realistic for Packers’ rookie receivers? ‘Catch the ball when it’s thrown to you’

September 8, 2018 GMT

GREEN BAY — J’Mon Moore would like nothing better than to make his first NFL regular-season game his coming-out party.

But even the ultra-confident Green Bay Packers receiver knows he and fellow rookie wideouts Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown don’t have history in their favor. At least one of them — and maybe all of them — will be inactive for Sunday night’s game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field.

Not only have many of the best receivers in the Packers’ recent history struggled as rookies, but no one from this year’s threesome of draft picks has earned enough of quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ trust at this point.

Perhaps that’s why Rodgers, when asked what reasonable expectations for the rookies would be, replied, “Reasonable? The reasonable expectations would be to catch the ball when it’s thrown to you and to make something happen and to put the ball away.

“We’re going to go with the guys that we have the most confidence in. But that changes week to week. A guy may jump up in practice and have a really nice week of practice and get some opportunity. A guy may struggle in a game and you may want to get somebody else in there. Or there’s injuries. So those guys have to be ready to play. But until there’s a lot of trust … we’ll see how much action they get. If they’re in there, they better be ready to go. And I think they will be.”

Moore was the highest of the three draft picks (fourth round) but had an up-and-down training camp. While he finished preseason play with nine receptions for 102 yards, he wasn’t on the field much with Rodgers in practice or for Rodgers’ seven game snaps. He also had a couple bad drops from the backup quarterbacks, so he knows he has to win over Rodgers and others.

“Realistically, they have their guys right now. They have the guys they trust. I’m really young coming in, so I’ve got to build that trust — with not only ‘12,’ but everybody,” Moore said Thursday. “I’ve made progress, but for me to be who I am or who I know I can be and who I will be, I know I have to take much bigger steps. I want to have an impact immediately, but I know people have different routes. Things don’t happen as fast as they want them to happen. But for me to do what I want to do, I know personally I have to take bigger steps.”

‘There was already a 52 here’

Clay Matthews said he would have happily embraced Khalil Mack had Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst successfully traded for him. Of course, Matthews — in the final year of a five-year, $66 million extension he signed in April 2013 — also understood the economics of the Bears’ acquisition of Mack, who got a six-year, $141 million deal from his new team.

“Good luck paying him, right?” Matthews said with a smile.

Getting Mack would have given the Packers a remarkable three-player edge-rushing group — Mack, Matthews and Nick Perry — as opposed to a unit that will rely on Reggie Gilbert to be the third edge rusher who rotates in on Sunday night.

“Would I have welcomed him? Of course,” Matthews said. “But what did (Gutekunst) say? He doesn’t like getting into hypotheticals? There was already a 52 here.”

Asked what he thought of the trade talks involving Mack, Perry replied: “I don’t really deal with external motivators like that. I think the guys in our room know what we have to do to get our jobs done. All the outside noise we kind of block that out. It’s up to us to do our job out there on the field. We’ve just got to make sure we do that and we’ll see how it plays out.”

Extra points

Rookie inside linebacker Oren Burks (shoulder) was in pads and a limited participant in practice, but that’s no guarantee he’ll be medically cleared for Sunday night. Coach Mike McCarthy did say Burks had “a good day” during practice Wednesday. … The only player who didn’t participate in practice at all was safety Josh Jones (ankle), who is not expected to play. … If Burks can’t go, McCarthy expressed confidence veteran inside linebackers Antonio Morrison and Korey Toomer, both of whom were added in the past 10 days, will be able to fill in. “They’ve really just showed up and stepped right in,” McCarthy said. “They spent a lot of time with Ron Zook in special teams, and I know (inside linebackers coach) Patrick Graham feels good about those guys. They’re off to an excellent start.” … McCarthy made official what was evident since the start of camp: Justin McCray will start at right guard. “(The line) has been fluid throughout training camp, but Justin, he’s in the first seat right now,” McCarthy said.