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Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks bringing out best in one another

Packers receivers trained together in Florida this offseason

WR Jayden Reed and WR Dontayvion Wicks
WR Jayden Reed and WR Dontayvion Wicks

GREEN BAY – Their rookie season over, Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks already had their offseason plans in place.

After combining for an astounding 103 catches, 1,374 yards and 14 touchdowns (12 receiving, two rushing) out of the gate, the two Packers receivers made a pact to keep the momentum going.

Following a short break, Reed and Wicks rented out a VRBO inFort Lauderdale, Fla., and trained together for two months until returning to Green Bay for the start of the team's offseason program in April.

"It was kind of mutual," Reed said. "Like, we'd seen the potential in each other, and it was like, 'Man, we could be something special. We need to stick together close because you are what you surround yourself around.'"

The two wideouts knew each other even before the Packers selected Reed in the second round (No. 50 overall) and Wicks in the fifth (167th overall) in 2023.

They met at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., before bumpinginto each other again at the NFL Scouting Combine the following month. A few weeks after that, Reed and Wicks both had pre-draft visits with the San Francisco 49ers.

"I'm walking out and he's walking in. I see him again and I'm like, 'I keep running into you. You're following me, bro,'" said Reed, smiling. "And then it all makes sense."

That's because on draft weekend the Packers came calling for both receivers, with picks gained from trading back twice from No. 45 in the second round.

Their unexpected contributions as rookies were critical for a young Green Bay offense that lost Christian Watson and Aaron Jones for a combined 14 games due to recurring hamstring issues.

Individually, Reed debuted in historic fashion. His team-high 64 catches topped Sterling Sharpe's 35-year-old franchise record for most receptions by a Packers rookie. Reed also led Green Bay with 793 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns, the thirdmost by a rookie in team history.

Wicks' opportunities came later but his impact was just as dynamic. His 18 explosive receptions of 16-plus yards not only led the Packers but were also the most by a Green Bay rookie dating back to 2000.

"It boosts confidence a lot," said Wicks of his rookie season. "Building it from last year, it's way better because now I can go out and have that chip that I've always had. (Now) playing faster, that's when I'm at my best."

As the offseason beckoned, both Reed and Wicks had plans to train down in Florida. So, why not train together – especially after having pushed each other as rookies?

Living in a four-bedroom house, the two wideouts concentrated their training on speed workouts and improving their route-running.

The goal, according to Reed, was to dig into each other's toolbox and see what they could incorporate into their own game. Reed gained insight into Wicks' in-steps and releases while providing his fellow wideout with tips on how he breaks off routes.

While addressing reporters last month, position coach Jason Vrable praised both receivers for their commitment to taking their game to the next level despite their early success.

"I think the first offseason, sometimes when you see growth is because they really get to hone in on their football skills," said Vrable, who's now the Packers' passing game coordinator after serving as receivers coach previously.

"There's no class. There's not visits. It is football 24/7, and (Wicks) is in great shape right now, and I'm just excited to see where this offseason and season goes for him."

Reed's girlfriend spent part of the offseason at the house, helping produce quite possibly the only non-DoorDash mealsthe receivers consumed. Occasionally, teammates and friends stopped by for a workout, as well.

While improving as receivers, Reed and Wicks grew closer as contemporaries. While technically in competition with one another, both wideouts embrace what it means to occupy one of the deepest position rooms on the roster.

From Reed's perspective, having eight receivers with NFL in-game experience helps curb against complacency and ensures everyone takes another step in 2024.

Because to get where the Packers want to go this season, they'll need the best version of Reed and Wicks – and the two second-year receivers plan to give that to their squad.

"That's my brother," Reed said. "Just the relationship was more important to me – just getting to know him more, cause at this point, if I go out there and I'm not doing something right, he'll hold me accountable, and I won't feel any type of way about it. And I can do the same thing to him."

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