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Receiver Jayden Reed on verge of Packers' rookie record

Second-round pick has 54 receptions; Sterling Sharpe had 55 in 1988

WR Jayden Reed
WR Jayden Reed

GREEN BAY – Jayden Reed just found out about it Tuesday, in a text from his position coach.

Passing game coordinator/receivers coach Jason Vrable clued Reed in that he's just one catch shy of tying Sterling Sharpe for the single-season receptions record by a Packers rookie.

Back in 1988, Sharpe caught 55 passes as a first-round draft pick from South Carolina. Reed is at 54 as a second-rounder from Michigan State, with three games to go. Coincidentally, when Sharpe broke the mark 35 years ago, Billy Howton's rookie total of 53 had stood for 36 years.

So not only is Reed on the verge of the mark, but he's one of just two Packers rookies to catch more than 50 passes in the last seven decades.

"It's just an honor to be in company with him," Reed said Wednesday of Sharpe, whose name resides in several other receiving categories in the Packers' record book. "I'm blessed."

He's also impressively talented, as well as incredibly tough.

Used in all sorts of ways by Head Coach Matt LaFleur, from jet sweeps to underneath routes to reverses and deep balls, Reed has proven a quick study in the NFL. He's also gotten work on punt returns.

He ranks learning the offense and getting comfortable with it as the primary reason for his early production (592 receiving yards, six TDs; 119 rushing yards, two TDs). He's also kept himself available despite a recent run of injuries – chest, ankle, toe – that have him on the injury report for a fifth straight week heading into Sunday's game at Carolina.

Yet he hasn't missed a game while steadily making his presence felt. Since Week 1, he's been held under three receptions just once, and he's now caught at least four passes in each of the last six games despite being nicked up.

"He's as tough a young player as I've been around," LaFleur said. "I just like how he attacks the game."

Catch No. 52, a 17-yard TD in the third quarter last week vs. Tampa Bay, certainly showcased his aggressiveness and savvy.

On third-and-14, quarterback Jordan Love broke the pocket to his right. Reed, in the back of the end zone, cut in and then back out toward the boundary to separate from Buccaneers cornerback Zyon McCollom and then kept both toes on the ground as he hauled in a dart from Love.

It can take time for quarterbacks and receivers to learn each other when it comes to scramble drills, but Love and Reed looked as though they'd improvised like that plenty before.

"We locked eyes and saw the defender, his back was facing him, and I'd seen he (Love) was running towards the right," Reed said. "I rolled with him and he threw a great ball."

Love added they try to create scramble-drill situations in practice to work on those connections, but it's never the same as in the game. He said most of the work is really on the receiver to give the quarterback a chance to make a play.

"I always trust my guys, especially in situations like that," Love said. "I'm always going to keep my eyes downfield and try and see if we've got a bigger play down there than me just taking off.

"I'm going to let those guys work, and J-Reed did an awesome job just getting lost in the back of the end zone right there, and then breaking out to my right to be able to get in my vision."

The footwork was also as good as it gets. At live speed, it was difficult to see that both feet were down when the ball arrived, but replay confirmed it.

"Being in college, you only need one," Reed said. "I've never been in that position where I had to get two feet in, in the corner, on the scramble with Jordan. He just threw a great ball to where only I could get it, and I made a play. So it's definitely a top highlight."

Next will be the two catches that tie and surpass Sharpe's franchise rookie record, which are likely to come in Charlotte if Reed can play through injury once again.

But the record is not forefront in his mind. He's more driven to help the Packers get back on the winning track and continue to develop the obvious connection he has with Love over the season's final three weeks.

"The easier we make his job, the easier our job is as well," Reed said. "Just continue to find ways to make plays for our quarterback and find ways to come out with wins."

Most receptions by Packers rookie

55: Sterling Sharpe, 1988
54: Jayden Reed, 2023
53: Billy Howton, 1952
48: Gerry Ellis, 1980 (RB)
47: James Jones, 2007
46: James Lofton, 1978

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