Green Bay Packers

Thursday Night Football Presents A Huge Opportunity for Equanimeous St. Brown

Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch (USA TODAY Sports)

The Green Bay Packers are ready to celebrate Halloween this Thursday against the undefeated Arizona Cardinals. That’s why they’re only playing a skeleton crew of wide receivers, right?

In a haunting scenario, the Packers, who are already missing a few key contributors, will be without wide receivers Allen Lazard and Davante Adams. Both receivers were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and will miss Thursday night’s tilt against the No. 1 seed in the NFC. While there is the smallest of hopes Adams could pass two negative tests by game time, it hasn’t happened as of this writing and isn’t worth getting your hopes up over.

Still, Green Bay has a creative play-caller in Matt LaFleur, who is 6-0 without Adams. While the team is better with the best wide receiver in the game at their disposal, his absence causes LaFleur to get especially crafty and opens up opportunities for other offensive players to shine.

One benefactor of Adams and Lazard’s absences is WR Equanimeous St. Brown, who already sees more targets in the past few weeks after starting the season on the practice squad. This week offers St. Brown a big opportunity to showcase his skills and earn a more prominent role in the offense.

EQ is an ideal physical specimen for a wide receiver. But he had a rough start to his career after. One of Brian Gutekunst’s three Day 3 WRs, he had perhaps the highest ceiling due to his physical profile. While he had a decent rookie season, he spent all of 2019 and part of last year on IR.

Injuries and an inability to climb the depth chart gave St. Brown few chances to get involved in the offense, and he was relegated to the practice squad this season. But the injury bug hit the Packers, knocking out 2018 draft mate Marquez Valdes-Scantling. St. Brown was a practice-squad elevation before returning to the active roster in mid-October.

EQ has played in five games on the season, with one catch on three targets for zero yards and one rush for 13 yards. Not much to write home about, but LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers both are working on getting him more involved on offense. St. Brown has made some spectacular catches; he just hasn’t been able to get them in bounds. He had a magnificent touchdown called back for a ridiculous OPI penalty against the Chicago Bears that surely would have made the highlight reel.

Rodgers is notorious for needing to develop deep trust with his receivers to target them. He keeps throwing to St. Brown, showing the confidence and belief that the young receiver can produce.

LaFleur is trusting St. Brown with some creative plays as well, like his 13-yard jet sweep last week against the Washington Football Team. The opportunities are there, and EQ shows improvements every week.

St. Brown’s downfield blocking was abysmal a few weeks ago, but he showed grit and willingness in pass protection against the Football Team. He hasn’t been afraid to make a name for himself on special teams either, showing flashes in the old Jeff Janis gunner role.

On Thursday, he gets his most significant opportunity yet. Even if MVS returns from IR for the Cardinals game, Green Bay will need big results from EQ, Randall Cobb, and Amari Rodgers to keep up with the high-powered Arizona offense.

As the veteran and most trusted receiver of the group, Cobb should see the lion’s share of targets, and the Packers would love to get rookie Amari Rodgers going. But neither of them is a 6’5” body able to bully their way through opposing cornerbacks. EQ compliments Cobb and Amari Rodgers’ skills well and can even be used as a big slot target.

Expect LaFleur to go deep into his bag of tricks and get weird with his play-calling. Expect things to get weird on a short week, down some of his most important players and against the best team in the NFC.

Green Bay may be down two or three of their top wideouts, but they still have their running backs, tight ends, and an intriguing set of depth receivers. We’ve seen LaFleur alter matchups to feature a different player multiple times. We’ve seen the ‘Allen Lazard week,’ the ‘Big Bob week,’ and the ‘Aaron Jones week’ in the past.

This week, a new hero could arise. It’s time for Equanimeous Tristan Imhotep J. St. Brown week.

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Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch (USA TODAY Sports)

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