GREEN BAY – Beware when Geronimo Allison gets a little disappointed in himself.
Coming off the preseason opener last week in which he played just a few snaps and did not have a pass thrown his way, followed by a rough practice on Saturday that included a couple of drops and footwork miscues, Allison has made sure any training-camp doldrums he may have been mired in are over.
The Packers’ fourth-year receiver was arguably the best player on the practice field Sunday, making at least a half dozen catches in 11-on-11 periods, some of them well-timed slants for potential big gainers. He turned in another impressive catch-and-run Tuesday, juking promising young corner Tony Brown in the open field after a short catch and bolting up the sideline.
His place in the pecking order at receiver has never really been in question throughout camp, but with a host of other young receivers making plays and grabbing attention on a daily basis, Allison has re-established where he belongs heading into Thursday’s second preseason game in Baltimore.
All it took was one down day for Allison to regain his focus and show how reliable he can be.
“Yeah, I would say so,” Allison said after Tuesday’s practice. “Just coming off that field Saturday, I wasn’t really satisfied, and Sunday I made sure I wanted to hone in on what I made my mistakes in the previous day, capitalize on it the following day. There was a little more sense of urgency and trying to detail some things up.”
The sharpness showed, and seeing fellow receivers Jake Kumerow, Darrius Shepherd and Allen Lazard turning heads was a motivator, too. Not that Allison was feeling like he had to prove himself again for fear of getting passed up, but it was more about continuing to be a leader and doing his part when the group as a whole is succeeding.
“I actually just have a fire kind of brewing in me,” he said. “One thing, when I see my young guys make plays, it makes me excited. It does. I’m always watching and detailing everything they do. So seeing my young guys make plays is amping me up to make my plays when I get my opportunities.”
The fact he calls them “my young guys” speaks to the leadership role he’s taken on as the second longest-tenured Packers receiver behind Pro Bowler Davante Adams. It’s a responsibility he likely would have grown into more last year, particularly when Randall Cobb was injured, if not for his own injuries (concussion, hamstring, core muscle) keeping him out of 11 of the season’s final 12 games.
Allison felt about midway through OTAs in the spring he was back to himself health-wise, and a deliberate, measured recovery process helped him feel 100 percent at the start of camp.
Over the past three weeks, the former undrafted Illinois product has taken numerous reps in the slot with Aaron Rodgers and the No. 1 offense. Rodgers has remarked how he likes the 6-foot-4 Allison’s experience, smarts and catching radius in that spot, and just mentioning the word “slot” brings a smile to Allison’s face.
“As long as I have a role, and it’s clear and understandable, I know how to help the team,” he said.
More important, missing three-quarters of last season – after beginning on a 1,000-yard pace with 19 catches for 289 yards and two TDs through four games – didn’t diminish his chemistry with Rodgers any.
That was evident on his big play in Tuesday’s practice, which was a check at the line from Rodgers that the ball was coming his way at the snap. Allison read the QB’s signal, was ready for the ball, and had the field awareness to know he had room to get around the corner if he made a good move after the catch.
“I feel like I still understand how he wants things operated, the thinking process in different situations on the field, different areas of the field, different route combinations,” Allison said. “I feel like I still have that instinctiveness, being intuitive with him, so that’s awesome.”
The No. 1 offense’s first preseason action will come Thursday night in Baltimore, with Adams, Allison and second-year pro Marquez Valdes-Scantling the top three receivers working with Rodgers.
But a lot of eyes will remain on the competition behind them. Kumerow and Lazard look to build on key plays they made in last week’s game, while J’Mon Moore will be aiming to smooth out some rough spots that produced an up-and-down opener for him.
“It’s going to be interesting. The guys upstairs are going to have their work cut out for him when they’re making the decisions,” Allison said. “That’s one thing we talk about in the room – the room is not going to be the same in a few more weeks. Guys are going to get shipped around, guys are going to move, and whatever is left, guys are going to have to play their tails off to contribute and help the team win.
“Collectively, if we all that are going to be in that room can do that, that’s the faith they have in us, so we have to do our job and get it done.”