Brandon Bostick working to grab starting spot at tight end
GREEN BAY—There might not be any jobs won or lost in the spring.
It only feels that way.
As rookie Richard Rodgers plucked passes with one hand—separating himself as an MVP of organized team activities—Brandon Bostick got antsy.
“He’s out there making plays,” the Green Bay Packers tight end said, “and I’m like, ‘Man, I need to be out there!’”
Bostick did return by mid-June from the broken foot he suffered in mid-December. At what quickly became a stocked, competitive position, he’ll enter a pivotal training camp next month.
Green Bay has spent three years developing the former Division II college wide receiver. This is when the Packers will expect to see a jump.
Multiple times at his locker, Bostick said his goal is to start. Nothing less.
“I’m taking this season and doing everything I can to get that starting spot,” Bostick said, “and just train as hard as I can, train like I did in college to come back bigger, faster, stronger.”
So first thing’s first. He must lose weight. Bostick said he reported back at 270 pounds.
After being carted off in Green Bay’s Week 15 win at Dallas, he could study, he could lift weights. He could not run. Bostick didn’t sprint full speed until about four weeks ago.
Maybe others will use this coming month to relax. Bostick knows he’ll be sweating.
“I have to get my weight under control, come back and my goal is to be the starter,” Bostick said. “I won’t settle for anything less. I’m going to compete and do everything I can to be the starter.”
He wants to get down to 260. At 270, Bostick admitted he can’t run like he used to. Chuckling, he said this is a mix of muscle and fat.
“Probably more fat,” he said. “I haven’t been running. But I’m back now, full speed. Full go.”
And you can see why Bostick got anxious during OTAs. If Rodgers proves himself as an in-line blocker, the third-round pick could start. Ryan Taylor flashed surprising athleticism. Jake Stoneburner is getting more opportunities. Andrew Quarless, out all spring, finished 2013 as the starter. And there are also rookies Colt Lyerla and Justin Perillo.
With all but Quarless healthy, Bostick did work with the No. 1 offense.
His pro maturation has been a process. At Newberry College in South Carolina, Bostick was a 230-pound wide receiver.
Intrigued by his receiving ability—he finished with 136 receptions for 1,935 yards with 19 touchdowns—Green Bay developed Bostick on the practice squad in 2012 and then bumped him up to the 53-man roster in 2013 when he caught seven passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. The blocking has been up and down. And Bostick couldn’t quite perfect the seam route, key for whoever wins the No. 1 job. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will thread that needle between the linebacker and safety.
Coach Mike McCarthy said last week that Bostick must be consistent.
“His body type is definitely a challenge for the opponent with some of the things he’s able to do,” McCarthy said, “particularly his ability to get down the field in coverage. So I think he definitely took a step last year and I’d like to see him do the same.”
During the final week, Bostick pulled down a touchdown pass on a fade route over rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, a play that instantly brought back visions of veteran Jermichael Finley. True, Bostick is strikingly similar to the tight end still awaiting medically clearance.
Yet even Bostick agreed with McCarthy on the consistency, saying he needs to make plays like this one “every play… every time.”
The foot injury isn’t in his head anymore. Bostick initially was compensating this offseason.
By July 26, Bostick aims to be an every-down tight end. Before breaking his foot, he was starting to bring more unpredictability to the offense, a struggle for one tight end cut before him (D.J. Williams).
If Williams or Bostick were on the field in seasons past, there was a good chance Green Bay was passing the ball.
“I definitely think I can do it all now,” Bostick said. “Coach knows that. So sometimes I go in on blocking situations. It’s whatever he wants. Whatever they need me to do, I can hold it down when I’m out there.”
The margin for error shrinks for players entering their third year. Bostick knows it.
One month from now, Quarless will return and the competition will begin.
“Be the starter,” Bostick said, “that’s my goal.”