Breakout year may be just the beginning for Packers TE Robert Tonyan

Green Bay wants to feature him even more in 2021

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TE Robert Tonyan

GREEN BAY – The emergence of Robert Tonyan as a featured playmaker in the Packers' offense was one several catalysts to Green Bay boasting the NFL's highest-scoring outfit in 2020.

And Head Coach Matt LaFleur doesn't see it stopping there.

The Packers have even bigger plans for the 6-foot-5, 237-pound tight end following a breakout season in which Tonyan caught 52 passes for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns, which tied Paul Coffman's record for most TD catches in a season by a Packers tight end.

Tonyan did all that without dropping a single pass, according to Pro Football Focus. Having just turned 27 in April, Tonyan's stock only continues to rise entering his fourth NFL season.

"He's probably progressed as much as any player we've had in the two years," LaFleur said. "I know he had a really good season last year and I think there's still more there for him.

"Right now is just a great time for us to experiment with him on different routes, so hopefully we can feature him a little bit more in our offense next season."

Tonyan went from a feelgood undrafted success story to bona fide weapon a year ago after stepping into the pass-catching void created by Jimmy Graham's offseason departure.

On the heels of a strong training camp, Tonyan secured back-to-back TDs against Detroit and New Orleans before breaking out with six receptions for 98 yards and three scores in Green Bay's 30-16 win over Atlanta on Monday Night Football in Week 4.

In addition to having a nose for the end zone, Tonyan was also one of Aaron Rodgers' go-to pass-catchers on play-action rollouts in short-yardage situations.

Beyond pass-catching, the former college quarterback also made significant strides as an in-line blocker, thanks in part to position coach Justin Outten and venerable veteran Marcedes Lewis.

"I think it's just a good foundation for what I stand for and what I stand on," said Tonyan of his 2020 season. "I stand on coming into work and putting that hard hat on and just working. It's been great for me thus far and I'm going to continue to do that, and continue to look at the faults in my game and continue to try to bring those up and make those a strength."

After a season many teammates felt should have resulted in Tonyan's first Pro Bowl selection, he once again returned to Nashville to train with friend and fellow tight end George Kittle.

Along with getting faster and stronger, Tonyan aimed to improve at the point of attack as a run blocker and with his mastery of the route tree, one area of Tonyan's game LaFleur wants to take more advantage of this upcoming season.

Since returning to Green Bay, Tonyan has enjoyed getting to work with both Outten and Lewis once again. Like LaFleur, Outten still sees plenty of upside to Tonyan's game.

"The expectations for him are still high. He has high expectations for himself," Outten said. "He knows that he can take his game to another level in all facets, not just the run game. His route tree is getting better as we move forward these last couple weeks. The pass game has come alive in the protection world. He's still continuing to make strides, even right now."

Tonyan agrees he still has room to grow in his own game. He plans to take that one step further when he rejoins Kittle later this month in Nashville for an offseason summit they're referring to as "Tight End University."

Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, Zach Ertz, Eric Ebron, T.J. Hockenson and No. 4 overall pick Kyle Pitts are among the dozen or so NFL tight ends who are scheduled to attend.

"Just getting the group of guys around the league together to just talk ball, work out together for the long weekend and have a good time," said Tonyan of the goal of the informal camp.

"Just network and see where everyone is at, where everyone's mind is at and seeing the work ethic of everything across the board and try to bring the fraternity of tight ends together across the league."

Tonyan hopes all the work he's put in this offseason leads to a successful follow-up to his breakthrough campaign and further cements the tight end room as a pillar of Green Bay's offense.

"I want to go out there and show I've been working this offseason on every aspect of my game," Tonyan said. "I just want to be that spark, or the tight end room, to be the spark. I don't want them to think that the tight end room is a slouch. As a room, (show) that we're coming."

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