Valdes-Scantling gets his chance to make an impression
Green Bay — It was a lesson learned for Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
With Randall Cobb inactive due to injury, the rookie receiver started his first NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
It’s the opportunity the fifth-round draft choice from South Florida has been waiting for. He has ascended through his body of work in OTAs, training camp, and the first three regularseason games as the top rookie receiver on the Packers roster.
“I mean, it was good feeling, but a start is only one play,” Valdes-Scantling said after Green Bay ’s 22-0 victory. “So, you got to play the whole game. It’s always a good feeling to have your number called, but there’s full four quarters you have to play.”
Valdes-Scantling was not only on the field with the first-team offense, but he also has seen extensive action on special teams units with his combination of speed (4.37 in 40), size (6-foot-4, 206 pounds), and athletic ability. As a gunner on punt coverage units, he stood out in the loss at Washington by forcing two fair catches and downing another at the Redskins’ 2.
“The only thing I wasn’t on today (against the Bills) was the field goal block,” he said. “I’m always about moving forward. I did some things right today, I did some things wrong. I want to keep learning and keep doing what I can to help this team out.”
Lesson No. 1 came in the third quarter: Valdes-Scantling’s mistake almost resulted in a pick-six for the Bills — which drew the ire of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
On 4th-and-3 from the Buffalo 36, he ran a short stop route to the right sideline, just enough to move the chains. Cornerback Ryan Lewis got inside position and dropped Rodgers’ pass with nothing but open turf in front of him. Rodgers stared down his rookie receiver after the play.
“I took outside release and he (Lewis) just sat on the play because it was fourth and short so he didn’t really think I’d be going deep — he was just playing the sticks,” Valdes-Scantling said. “I couldn’t really fight back to the ball. He made a good play. I didn’t win the route...
“It wasn’t a good enough play by me. When A-Rod got to the sideline, he showed his frustration, but he came to me and said, ‘I still believe in you, I trust you.’”
Lesson No. 2 came i n the fourth quarter: Rodgers meant what he said.
On 3rd-and-3 from the Green Bay 34 with 4:09 remaining, he ran a go route up the right sideline and Rodgers hit him for a 38-yard gain. It was ValdesScantling’s only catch of the game, but one he will not soon forget.
Rodgers told the two outside receivers in the huddle to run go routes.
“A-Rod had his mind made up on taking a shot,” he said with a smile. “He still has trust in me, that I can make plays. Mistakes are going to happen, nobody is ever going to be perfect.
“It was a mistake made by me earlier, and we moved on from it. He had confidence in me to go and throw me a ball. It was a good feeling.
“I just want to keep progressing and help us win.”
The playbook on Valdes-Scantling
Full name: Marquez Reshard Val- des-Scantling Nickname: “Quez” Residence: St. Petersburg, Fla. Born: Oct. 10, 1994, in St. Petersburg. Favorite flick: Bad Boys II Favorite meal: Shrimp Alfredo Books I enjoy: The Bible First job: I worked for a moving company in Tampa, and I realized I didn’t want to be doing that (for too long).
First car: I had a Dodge Ram 1500 in high school, but that was my parent’s truck. First car I bought myself was in college and it was an Infinity G35. My ride now: I drive an Audi A7.
My NFL idols growing up: Larry Fitzgerald and Randy Moss. I wore No. 11 in high school like Fitzgerald and I trained i n Tampa with Moss. We’re have the same body type and he helped me with some of the details of being an NFL receiver and the mental aspects of the game.
Person I’d like to have dinner with:
Probably Larry Fitzgerald. He’s my favorite receiver and he’s been doing it for so long. Just to talk to him about the finer points and learn all I can to be the best receiver I can be.
Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling catches a pass in the fourth quarter against the Bills. Valdes-Scantling started his first NFL game Sunday due to Randall Cobb’s hamstring injury.