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Competition fueling Packers' deep receiving corps

Green Bay returns all seven receivers who finished last season on 53


GREEN BAY – The young receivers on the Packers' roster know what they're in for once training camp rolls around at the end of the month.

As soon as the calendar turns to July 27, the competition officially begins for the roles behind the starting trio of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams.

And it's expected to be fierce.

The Packers return all seven receivers who finished the 2016 season on the active roster in addition to welcoming two rookie draft picks in DeAngelo Yancey and Malachi Dupre.

"Obviously we know the talent they have and the success they've had at this level already," said Dupre, a seventh-round pick out of LSU. "I feel like the competition in that room is only making us all better with the youth and the veterans."

The Packers feature a unique blend of talent behind their three mainstays with four other recent draft choices – fourth-year receiver Jeff Janis, Dupre, Yancey and Trevor Davis – also in the hunt.

Additionally, the Packers had two undrafted free agents – Geronimo Allison and Max McCaffrey – crack the 53-man roster after starting on the team's practice squad.

Allison, who signed with Green Bay as a college free agent out of Illinois last spring, proved to be a hidden gem in the rookie class, putting himself in contention for a roster spot after leading the Packers with six catches for 119 yards in the preseason.

While he didn't make the opening roster, Allison shined after receiving a midseason promotion. He caught 12 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns in 10 regular-season games.

The 6-foot-3, 202-pound receiver had his most impactful showing in the Packers' 31-24 victory over Detroit. His four catches for 91 yards and a touchdown helped Green Bay prevail in the winner-take-all battle for the NFC North crown.

Allison concentrated his energy this offseason on being more efficient in his breaks and sharpening his fundamentals. Mixed with his natural play-making ability, he hopes to showcase himself as a more complete receiver in Year 2.

"You have to make plays at the end of the day," Allison said. "They see guys out there who are making plays and being efficient, knowing where to be and when to be there. The more plays you make, the better chance you give yourself at making this roster."

The current landscape closely resembles where the Packers stood at receiver last year at this time. They ultimately kept seven on the 53-man roster, though Ty Montgomery was in the early stages of his transition to the backfield at the time.

Montgomery's move not only gave the Packers a dynamic new playmaker in their backfield, but also created opportunity for Allison and Davis, a fifth-round pick out of California.

Along with Janis, the two rookies each caught their first NFL regular-season touchdown passes in Week 8 against Atlanta with Randall Cobb sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Davis, who's considered one of the fastest players on the roster, caught all three of his passes in 2016 against the Falcons, including a 9-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

"I think he did a great job of slowly coming along and I think this spring his confidence level is much higher," receivers coach Luke Getsy said. "I'm excited for Trevor. I think he's going to have a really big August for us and he'll be one of those guys who are going to show up. He showed that this spring. He's made a ton of really, really impressive catches."

The Packers brought in even more competition this offseason in adding Yancey, Dupre and three new undrafted rookies Michael Clark, Montay Crockett and Colby Pearson to the room.

The two rookie draft picks both bring impressive college credentials with them to the next level. Yancey, a fifth-round pick out of Purdue, caught a career-high 49 passes for 951 yards and 10 touchdowns during his senior year (19.4 yards per catch).

Dupre was considered one of the top recruits in the country when he committed to LSU in 2013. The exposure led to him developing a friendship with Packers backup quarterback Brett Hundley, whom Dupre met during the UCLA recruiting process.

Dupre, who caught 98 passes for 1,609 yards and 14 touchdowns in three seasons in Baton Rouge, showed his pose and athleticism with a few nice plays downfield during the offseason program.

"Obviously they brought me here for a reason," Dupre said. "They saw things I may be able to do better than others. I just feel like as long as I'm out there focusing on what I can control, making the tough catch. It's something that I can do. If it's in my area and I feel like I can make the play, then I'm going to make it."

The potential of this year's crop of receivers has Getsy and the rest of the Packers' coaching staff excited about the group's upside, especially with Nelson, Cobb and Adams leading the way.

While it's going to take a full training camp to sort everything out, Getsy is confident he's standing in front of a room chock-full of prospects who can play in this league.

"I'd like to think we have more than seven guys who can play in that group, for sure," Getsy said. "Circumstances dictate a little bit the way things go … but the thing I'm excited about is I really do think we have more than seven guys who can contribute to us winning football games."

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