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Practice-squad run brought out best in Bo Melton

Hard work and faith guided first-year receiver back to the Packers’ 53

WR Bo Melton
WR Bo Melton

GREEN BAY – The "MELTON 80" nameplate was once again hanging inside the Packers' main locker room, but the receiver to whom it belonged was nowhere to be found after practice Thursday.

Instead, Bo Melton was enjoying a light post-practice snack with a few teammates in the nearby auxiliary locker room that houses the members of Green Bay's 17-player practice squad.

Prior to Monday, it was the place Melton called home all season.

"Yeah, they gonna be mad if I come out here all day. They not gonna let me back over there," smiled Melton after returning to his main locker after a request for an interview. "I love everybody on the team. This is a great team, great atmosphere. All of us bond with each other very well, so that's just like a little joke we use."

You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone at Lambeau Field who isn't happy for Melton after he signed to the active roster Monday following a 105-yard performance in Sunday's 33-10 win over Minnesota.

Following the game, starting receiver Romeo Doubs and several Packers teammates cheered raucously for Melton as a media scrum formed around him inside the visiting locker room at U.S. Bank Stadium.

It was a full-circle moment for the former Seattle seventh-round pick, who first signed to Green Bay's 53-man roster near the end of last season before falling shy of making the team coming out of training camp last summer.

At that time, Melton had a choice to make. He could return on the Packers' practice squad or try to catch on with another NFL club. Nobody would have faulted him for choosing the latter considering three rookie receivers (Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks and Malik Heath) made the roster, alongside Doubs, and returning second-year vets Christian Watson and Samori Toure.

But it's not like the speedy Melton to run from a challenge.

The 5-foot-11, 196-pound receiver talked with his family, consulted his Bible, and ultimately chose to remain in Green Bay with Watson and Doubs, both of whom he'd grown close with since all three attended the Senior Bowl in January 2022.

"I wanted to stay here, stay with these guys, stay with the team," Melton said. "The bond I made with the team, I didn't want to leave anybody. I feel like I was a guy who can stay with these guys, and it ended up working out."

It took a little time, though. While NFL teams have the option to elevate two practice-squad players each week, Melton did not receive a call-up through the first three-quarters of the season.

His gameday was the practice field, as Melton helped the Packers' defense prepare for upcoming opponents. Sure, he was running other team's routes, but there were still lessons learned lining up across from the likes of Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, Carrington Valentine and Corey Ballentine.

"I've said it before and I'm going to continue to say it – ever since Bo's gotten in this building, Bo's been putting in crazy amount of work to put himself in the position he's in now," Doubs said. "He knows better than I do that we're in this together and he looks forward to the process of getting better every day."

Opportunity beckoned for Melton at the end of November. With injuries taking their toll on Green Bay's receiving corps, Melton signed to the 53-man roster for the Packers' Thanksgiving showdown with NFC North-leading Detroit.

He only played eight snaps, but it was a start. The first-year receiver was released the following Monday and spent two more weeks on the practice squad before being elevated to play against Tampa Bay in Week 14.

Over a span of three weeks, Melton went from catching his first NFL pass against the Buccaneers on a 7-yard gain to becoming a go-to target for quarterback Jordan Love this past Sunday after Reed exited with a chest injury and didn't return.

After catching his first NFL touchdown in the third quarter, Melton hauled in a 37-yard pass to close out a 33-10 win over the Vikings that put Green Bay back in control of its playoff destiny.   

"He brings so much great energy to the room to practice every day, whether he is on the show team (or) working with the first-team offense," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said.

"Just the level of excitement that guys have for him celebrating his success for what he's been able to do the last couple of weeks, he's a well-respected and well-liked member of our football team."

Melton said his phone went crazy after the game, with his parents and aunts all reaching out. He also spoke with his younger brother, Max, a junior cornerback at Rutgers who declared for the NFL Draft last month.

Signed to the active roster Monday, Melton already has turned his attention to Sunday's win-and-in matchup with Chicago. It's possible Watson, Reed and Wicks could all be back after returning to practice Wednesday.

Either way, Melton will be ready for whatever is asked of him against the Bears. Grateful to be back on the Packers' 53-man roster, Melton is also appreciative of the journey he's taken to get there.

"I've brought a lot of bonds back there with the guys," said Melton, glancing toward the auxiliary locker room. "Being a practice-squad guy, just waiting for opportunity, I know a lot of guys back there do the same thing. We were just grinding and being able to perform has felt amazing."

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