GREEN BAY – At times in training camp, the conversations that take place amongst players after a play are as important, if not more so, than the plays themselves.
Especially if the guy leading the conversation is quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Geronimo Allison is one of those players always paying attention when Rodgers strikes up a chat with one of his top two receivers, Davante Adams or Randall Cobb. Smartly, Allison makes sure he’s within earshot.
“I’m always listening, eavesdropping,” Allison said. “So he doesn’t have to coach the same thing twice.”
It’s that never-ending absorption of the Packers’ offense, both the playbook version and the one Rodgers constantly tweaks on the fly, that has helped put Allison where he is.
Entering training camp as the leader experience- and production-wise in a wide-open competition for the No. 3 receiver spot behind Adams and Cobb, Allison has not been budged. He continues to take the majority of the reps in the three-receiver sets with the first unit and Rodgers.
Allison hasn’t made any huge splash plays or acrobatic catches, but he’s been a steady presence through the early stages of camp. He’s been there for Rodgers on a check at the line or for a back-shoulder throw, and he continues to earn praise for other little things, too.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy has commented on Allison’s consistency as well as his “tenacity,” saying he admires it. McCarthy added a couple of Allison’s one-on-one routes in practice also made it into a film session the other day as examples to follow.
Cobb even told reporters he believes a “big year” is on tap for Allison.
“It lets me know I’m appreciated around here and my hard work is paying off,” Allison said. “It doesn’t take anything or distract me from anything, going about my business. I continue to keep my same routine and my preparation to get myself ready.”
Undrafted in 2016 out of Illinois, Allison takes nothing for granted but has no shortage of confidence in his abilities, and rightly so.
A strong finish to his rookie year (157 yards and a TD on eight catches in the final two regular-season games, plus 46 yards on three grabs, all for first downs, at Dallas in the playoffs) followed by a player-of-the-game performance last year in Week 3 vs. Cincinnati (career highs of six catches for 122 yards, including a 72-yard catch-and-run in overtime to set up the winning field goal) have shown Allison can deliver when called upon.
Now, with Jordy Nelson gone and a new pecking order at his position being established, he wants to get his number called more often.
Allison has declared himself ready, while the competition is cranking up in camp.
When the pads went on for the first time last weekend, rookie draft picks J’Mon Moore and Marquez Valdes-Scantling both hauled in touchdown catches. Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater product Jake Kumerow has made plays almost on a daily basis. Trevor Davis has shown up a bit more this week as well.
The Packers were at Ray Nitschke Field Saturday in pads for the first time
Allison and Davis are the next ones the younger receivers turn to with questions after Adams and Cobb. It’s a role Allison says he must “own,” because he knows where they’ve been, having sat behind Nelson in meetings the last two years furiously taking notes.
In that vein, he’s also a liaison of sorts between the veterans and young receivers. That’s another function of those on-field conversations, so he’s always watching for when Rodgers approaches any fellow pass-catchers after a play.
“If it looks like something important, where he’s walking up to him urgently like, hey, let’s talk about this, then that’s an indication he might want something different right there,” Allison said. “What did they see?
“I want to be a part of it so I know, so you don’t have to repeat it, and once I know, we echo it to the room, and everyone’s on board.”
Allison’s opportunity is right in front of him, and he knows it. No eavesdropping required.
“That’s what it’s all about. You want to be a starting NFL receiver,” he said. “That’s what you came here for. You don’t want to be that guy on the backburner.
“When you’re out there making plays, helping the team win, it’s fun.”