“Before the season I already knew this was going to happen,” Tonyan said when asked about Rodgers’ stellar play in the season’s opening quarter. “I already knew this was going to happen. That’s all I have to say. ”
The numbers say the rest: The Packers scored at least 30 non-turnover points in each of the first four games – making them the first team in NFL history to start a season with four of those games, according to the Elias sports office. And they have done so with various contributors while facing a plethora of infringing injuries. They played their second straight game without Pro Bowl wide receiver Davante Adams (hamstrings) and were also without No. 2 receiver Allen Lazard (who is indefinitely out due to an abdominal muscle injury that required intervention. surgery just days after his career best game of the week. 3).And remember, the Packers didn’t draft a single wide receiver in the receiver-richest draft and instead took Rodgers’ eventual replacement, Jordan Love, in the first round.
If Rodgers was inconsistent in the Packers’ 13-3 season last year, he’s making up for it now.
He completed 27 of 33 passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns against the Falcons. For the season, he has 13 non-intercepting touchdown passes – the fourth most passable non-interception touchdowns in a team’s first four games in NFL history.
He owes part of Tonyan’s thanks for that, at least after Monday night.
The former undrafted free agent from Indiana State, where he began his career as a quarterback, isn’t exactly a newcomer to Green Bay. He’s been with the Packers since the last month of the 2017 season, when he was signed to the practice squad. He made the team in 2018 and despite playing in all 16 games, he only had four catches for 77 yards and one touchdown. He looked set to come out last season, but suffered a groin injury that ultimately required off-season surgery and captured just 10 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown.
Tonyan, an off-season training partner of 49ers tight end George Kittle (who tweeted his approval of Tonyan’s performance on several occasions Monday night), had the opportunity this season after the Packers cut their first tight end of the past two years, Jimmy Graham. They were also without veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis (knee) on Monday against Atlanta.
With six catches for 98 yards and three scores against the Falcons, Tonyan brought his season’s touchdown tally to five – tied with Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans for most NFL touchdowns. In four games, Tonyan also tied Graham’s touchdown outing in 32 games for the Packers in the previous two seasons.
“You can’t help but gain a lot of respect for [Tonyan] Rodgers said. And I don’t think it was just me. There were a lot of people who really saw this and saw that he was trying to fight to be there that he gained a lot of respect. When it comes to talent, we’ve always known. He’s a talented guy and it’s only a matter of time before a game like this happens. But speaking of respect and trust and being able to count on a guy, we saw that last year with Bobby. ”
Tonyan’s third and final touchdown of the night – a 21 yard yardage in the third quarter – earned him extra points with his quarterback. He tripped after Falcons safety Jamal Carter dragged him down and did a full barrel roll before getting up and continuing to run.
“I do yoga twice a week, so I think the somersault helped me,” Tonyan joked. “I just got back on my feet and the next thing I know is the ball is in the air. It’s crazy Aaron hung on for so long for me to get up and throw him. But yes, it was crazy. ”
Now the Packers are entering their week off, which means players will have to stay in Green Bay due to daily COVID-19 testing – something Rodgers said “totally sucks” but “obviously that’s what it is [given] the situation “- and that may get Adams back for the Week 6 showdown with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Tampa, Fla.
If it looks like Rodgers enjoyed making it work without some of his most trusted playmakers, he has to do a good job of faking it.
“Not really, I’d rather have these guys,” he says. “I’d rather we were as healthy as possible, but the beauty of this game is rarely the case, whether it’s guys who play with injuries or guys who can’t play because of injuries, and that’s just part of it. of the game. You like the opportunities for these other guys because a lot of them really deserved it, won the opportunity to be there, won the opportunity to be in a position to play and you are learning. a lot about character and abilities in these times. “