Wide receiver Bill Schroeder already has a career high 3 touchdown catches this season.
Call it luck, call it good scouting, call it what you will, but whenever a wide receiver leaves the Green Bay Packer offense, another wide receiver steps up.
When Sterling Sharpe retired due to injury, Robert Brooks stepped in and picked up where Sharpe had left off. When Brooks was injured, Antonio Freeman stepped in. Now, Brooks is retired, tight end Mark Chmura is injured for the remainder of the season, and it has been the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse product, Bill Schroeder, who has stepped into the spotlight, fortunately for the Green and Gold, he does not plan on letting it go any time soon.
General Manager Ron Wolf can get the credit for his shrewd scouting and rare ability to find National Football League-caliber talent in relatively untapped sources - proverbial diamonds in the rough. Or, credit the offensive system engineered by Offensive Coordinator Sherm Lewis and executed by Brett Favre.
One thing is certain, Bill Schroeder was given an opportunity to be a starter in the NFL, and it is an opportunity he will not give up without a fight.
"I think I've improved quite a bit from last year. I think the coaches have had a lot of confidence in the way that I have been performing in the past and now. I still think there are some improvements to be made," Schroeder said. "I just have to continue to play and practice 100% all of the time, and try to fix some of the mistakes that I make and continue to try to be a good receiver."
And it is in practice where Schroeder feels his greatest strides are made. "You see guys, like Brett (Favre) in practice working at 100% and it shows on game day - that is kind of the way that I work now. I work even harder now. Now that I have a chance to become a starter and I've been given a chance to play quite a bit, one thing is clear to me," Schroeder said. "The better you work in practice, and the faster you work, the more it shows up in the games. You're not trying to adjust things from practice to the games. If you practice full-speed all of the time, that is how you'll see things in the game."
The improvements are obvious by looking at his statistics for this season: 50 catches for 749 yards and 3 touchdowns. He already has posted all new career highs in virtually every category: receptions, yards and touchdowns. But as is often the case, statistics do not tell the whole story. There was a three-game stretch against the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions where Schroeder caught 12 passes, 11 of which were for first downs. Schroeder attributes this to precise route running.
"When I get the routes thrown to me, I always try to make something happen after the catch. I just try to work my routes real well, so I can get open enough so that Brett can spot me. I'm just going out there making the plays as they are called, running the right routes," he said.
All signs this season suggest that Bill Schroeder is the next in what is becoming a long line of Packer receivers to step up when needed. It makes sense that Schroeder is the man filling the role. Besides being a Wisconsin native, Schroeder is in his second stint with the Packers. He started on the practice squad in 1994. He then was traded to the New England Patriots during training camp in 1995. He broke his foot during a preseason game with the Patriots. He was waived by the Patriots the following season, and the Packers wasted no time signing him again to the practice squad. Playing with the Packers is a dream come true for the man born in Eau Claire.
"Sometimes I've got to pinch myself. I remember coming to training camp when I was a kid and watching practice," Schroeder remembered, "I know what it feels like to be one of the fans here. Now, I'm on the other side and it feels special playing here in Green Bay."
Well, if this season is a dream, don't pinch him until it is over, in Atlanta.