A stronger Samori Toure is aiming high in Year 2

Packers receiver continues to break through during climb to NFL


GREEN BAY – A familiar pattern emerged for Samori Toure in recent years.

Whether it's the Big Sky, Big Ten or NFC North, the Packers second-year receiver has consistently outperformed expectations and opened eyes over the course of his football career.

This spring was no different.

"If you guys would see Samori right now, you wouldn't even recognize the guy from last year, his growth," said receivers coach/passing game coordinator Jason Vrable at the start of organized team activities in May. "He's probably, of everybody, the one that everybody around the building is like, '(Number) 83 looks unbelievable right now.'"

Vrable wasn't wrong. The changes were noticeable when Toure took the field for OTAs after the former seventh-round pick added eight pounds to his 6-foot-1 frame during the winter.

The 25-year-old receiver hit the weight room hard this offseason in hopes of not only making another run at a roster spot but also carving out a larger role in a Packers offense that lost veterans Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb during free agency.

Given his body type, Toure would appear to be an ideal fit in the slot that Cobb vacated. To get there, Toure wanted to prepare his body for the rigors of a full 17-game NFL season.

Still, it's not like he went into the offseason with a target weight goal or anything like that. It just kind of happened.

"I didn't do a lot of stuff different, but I just feel like I was more intentional in the weight room," Toure said. "I've got a pretty wiry body, so honestly, I put on eight pounds, and I really don't even notice but I can definitely feel a difference. I feel more explosive. I feel stronger."

Toure has never been short on motivation. Underrecruited out of Portland, Toure latched onto a scholarship offer from Montana and had a season for the ages as a redshirt junior (87 catches for 1,495 yards and 13 touchdowns) in 2019.

After Montana postponed its 2020 season due to COVID-19, Toure chose to transfer to Nebraska. He kept catching passes and winning routes in Lincoln, leading the Cornhuskers with 46 receptions for 898 yards (19.5-yard average) and five touchdowns in 12 games.

It was enough for Toure to get his foot in the NFL doorway, as the Packers made him the 28th and final receiver drafted in 2022. Last summer, Toure overcame the odds yet again. He paced Green Bay in receiving during the preseason to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.

Toure didn't see a ton of work in his 12 regular-season appearances but caught his first touchdown from future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers last October in Buffalo.

"I feel like I've made a big jump," Toure said. "That's something that's been consistent with me, even throughout college. I've been able to make a lot of progress throughout each year. It's just a matter of being comfortable with the system, the playbook, the speed of play and all that."

Once training camp begins later this month, Toure will be locked in a wide-open competition for roles behind fellow 2022 draft picks Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs.

The Packers didn't sign any veterans in free agency to help replace the departing Lazard and Cobb but added three more rookies (Michigan State's Jayden Reed, Virginia's Dontayvion Wicks and Charlotte's Grant DuBose) in this year's draft.

In Toure, Vrable and the coaching staff see a more confident receiver who's grown more comfortable in his own skin. But as always, it's going to come down to consistency.

"Samori has had his moments and we gotta continue to build upon those and become more and more consistent along the way," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "But he's a guy that we definitely have high hopes for. He has the tools necessary that you look for in terms of being able to separate. He has them in his body. He possesses those. It's just continuing to get more and more reps."

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