GREEN BAY – If you thought Cris Carter was the only wide receiver from Ohio State whose reputation was that He only catches touchdowns, well, Jake Stoneburner would like a word.
During his junior and senior seasons with the Buckeyes, the Green Bay Packers undrafted rookie free agent caught only 30 passes (14 in 2011 and 16 in 2012). Of those, an astonishing 11 were for touchdowns – 36.7 percent. Last season alone, seven of his 16 catches were for TDs.
“That’s kind of been my thing at Ohio State,” Stoneburner said after catching a 9-yard touchdown – what else? – from B.J. Coleman in the Packers’ 19-7 preseason victory over the St. Louis Rams Saturday night. “I didn’t catch many balls, but when I did, I scored.”
He did it again against the Rams. After not registering a catch in the preseason opener against Arizona, Stoneburner caught two passes – one for no gain, and then the touchdown – against the Rams. Oddly enough, a mistake by the official scoring crew at the Edward Jones Dome credited rookie outside linebacker Andy Mulumba – who wears No. 46 while Stoneburner is No. 45 – with the TD instead of Stoneburner.
No matter, since everyone knew that Mr. Touchdown had caught the ball. It was a terrific throw by Coleman, who has been up and down in camp, and a great catch by Stoneburner, who shielded his defender from the ball and caught it just inside the goal line and sideline.
“It was just a simple corner route and B.J. was scrambling, and he made a heck of a pass – I mean, an incredible pass – and I was just coming back to the ball and was able to keep my feet in and get the ball and touch the pylon,” Stoneburner said. “I give credit to B.J., because that was one heck of a pass, I thought. I was just able to catch it.”
For Stoneburner, it was a key play as he tries to make a name for himself in a crowded tight end group as he reacclimates himself to the position after moving to wide receiver last year when Urban Meyer arrived in Columbus.
“For me not playing tight end last year, I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress with blocking and just learning the position again,” Stoneburner said. “We’ve got a really great, deep position, so it’s just a numbers game and I’m just trying to do anything I can to make an impression. (This game) definitely helped, but I still have a long way to go. It’s not up to me, I just have to keep on grinding, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Stoneburner, who only played 13 offensive snaps, also sealed the victory by recovering the Rams’ onside kick with 58 seconds to play. That won’t hurt his cause, either, given the uncertainty at his position behind starter Jermichael Finley.
Would-be No. 2 Andrew Quarless, who missed all of last season following reconstructive knee surgery, has been out with a quadriceps pull. Blocking tight end Matthew Mulligan left Saturday night’s game with an arm injury of unknown severity. Third-year man Ryan Taylor hasn’t played in the preseason since suffering a knee injury in the Family Night Scrimmage. And while former practice squadder Brandon Bostick has taken a step forward, third-year player D.J. Williams has been up and down.
That could add up to opportunity for the new kid.
“I felt like I was able to make plays when they came my way. I didn’t do anything out of my ability,” Stoneburner said. “I just felt like with that onside kick and the pass, I felt like when they come your way you have to seize your opportunity, and I felt like I was able to do that tonight. The onside kick I guess, I was so excited about the touchdown, I didn’t really think that was a big play, but I guess it kind of was.”
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