A former Green Bay Packers wide receiver and return man may soon have a new NFL home with a contender in the AFC North Division.
The Cleveland Browns took a look at a couple of quarterbacks on Thursday, and they didn’t stop there. Along with the now-signed Josh Rosen and the yet unemployed A.J. McCarron, the Browns held a workout for two wide receivers — one of whom was Darrius Shepherd, formerly of the Packers.
Shepherd signed with Green Bay as an undrafted free agent in 2019 after playing his collegiate football with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance at North Dakota State University. Shepherd spent two years in green and gold, suiting up for 14 games during that span. He caught only six passes for 47 yards, per Pro Football Reference, making a stronger impact on special teams. Shepherd returned 20 kickoffs for the Packers in total, gaining 374 yards in those efforts. He also fielded three punts during his two seasons in Green Bay.
Shepherd signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in June of 2021 but fell one cut shy of making the 53-man roster. He was a member of the practice squads for the Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers last season before playing with the New Jersey Generals of the USFL this year.
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Cleveland Browns rookie wide receiver David Bell, formerly of the Purdue Boilermakers, catches a pass during a game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field on November 9, 2019 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
While the Browns signed Rosen Thursday, there was no immediate movement on Shepherd. However, it appears pass catchers may be in greater demand in Cleveland just one day later, as third-round pick David Bell has suffered a foot injury that is expected to sideline him for multiple weeks.
Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported the news on Friday, noting that the Browns are optimistic Bell’s foot issue will not prove overly serious.
“If all goes as hoped, Bell will be back on the practice field in a couple of weeks,” Cabot wrote.
With Bell looking already like the favorite to win the No. 2 job in Cleveland as a rookie, the Browns may well consider adding another wide receiver to the mix, opening a window for Shepherd if the team intends to keep costs down.
Just three seasons after bringing Shepherd into the fold, the Packers have gone back to the well of NDSU wide receivers with their selection of Christian Watson in this year’s second round.
After trading Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders and letting Marquez Valdes-Scantling leave for Kansas City in free agency, Green Bay drafted Watson to potentially be the top target for two-time reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Whether that strategy will pay dividends in 2022, however, remains a mystery to even Rodgers himself.
“Physically … they definitely look the part. All three of the guys we drafted all have physical gifts,” Rodgers said of his trio of rookie wideouts during a July 6 appearance on the Pat McAfee Show. “[But] it could be a long training camp for the offense. I like the way our defense is looking and playing … so it could be some growing pains for the offense.”