Why I'm betting on Robert Tonyan

On a podcast released Wednesday morning, Robert Tonyan spoke about his ACL injury and his mindset. I'm excited to see him play again this year.

I have always been a big fan of Robert Tonyan. It's no secret.

The Packers tight end started off as a practice squad guy in 2018 and worked his way into the starting lineup in 2020, posting a tight end league-leading 11 touchdown receptions that season.

However, in a contract year in 2021, Tonyan wasn't showing up in the stat box much during the first part of the season. He finally started to get things going before tearing his ACL on Oct. 28 at Arizona.

Nine months later, Tonyan, understandably, has yet to fully practice during the opening part of Packers training camp.

It's not an understatement to say that this season is massive for his future in the NFL.

So it was great to hear Tonyan open up in a chat with Will Compton recorded a few weeks ago on an episode of Bussin' With the Boys released on Wednesday morning.

For the first time during the offseason, Tonyan really opened up and let it fly on a variety of topics. It was an excellent episode that covered all things Packers, including Tonyan's mindset last season, his recovery, his mindset for this season, the Packers in the playoffs and even Aaron Rodgers' new tattoo.

But one thing really stuck out to me.

Tonyan and Compton spoke for the first roughly 11 minutes about the ACL injury and what that was like.

After spending some time reflecting, Tonyan had some really deep stuff to say about how he views the injury and the future.

"This is for a reason," Tonyan said. "You got to see a lot of things happen with football, like, Davante leaving. You got to see our defensive guys get paid. It's like, it's just not my time yet. If I keep worrying about me, bettering myself on the field and off the field, that stuff is going to come."

"I was getting ahead of myself a little bit," Tonyan continued. "I did such a good job in 2020 with living in the present. I had a great season. Then you get into 2021 and maybe I was a little ahead of myself now that I look back on it. But I really believe everything truly happens for a reason."

For me, it was really cool to hear Tonyan's perspective on the situation. Put yourself in his shoes. It must've hurt so much to have a season-ending injury right when you're starting to get targets and post numbers again. Especially in a contract year on a championship-caliber team.

But it sounds like he's putting it behind him, buckling up and getting ready for a massive comeback season.

Which is why I'm betting on another strong season from him this fall.

"You have one of the best, if not the best, quarterbacks of all time as your quarterback," Tonyan said. "We have a bunch of people coming back on defense, and then some. We don't have a No. 1 receiver anymore. That's what I want. That's the pressure I want to put on myself, because I want to be that guy."

Tonyan spoke about how he knows he's flying under the radar because of his injury last season. He also subtly let fans know that he'll be back as a top tight end in the NFL this year.

"I grew so much," Tonyan stated. "I'm not scared to come back. And I'm not over-eager to come back. I'm just, like, smiling internally because I'm like... Some people forgot."

__________________________

Gunnar Davis is a lifelong Packers fan and a recent graduate of Simpson College, where he was a 3-year letterwinner on the offensive line and graduated with a degree in multimedia communications. You can follow him on Twitter at @Gunnar57Davis.

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4 points

Comments (35)

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PatrickGB's picture

August 03, 2022 at 12:25 pm

I am not sure what “getting ahead of myself” means. Yet, I like the attitude. And I do see a bounce back year with him getting more targets. I think that in 20 he was wide open a lot and maybe it was because of Adams drawing coverage. All he has to do next is his part in the offense. He won’t wow anyone but as long as he is steady he will do well. I wish him a complete recovery and I hope that it is soon.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

August 03, 2022 at 02:10 pm

I was thinking "getting ahead of myself" meant he was thinking he deserved a huge contract, but then he wasn't as successful early in the season last year and then was injured. So I think he was thinking he'd "made it" in the NFL when it reality you have to prove yourself constantly and he needs another monster season to deserve a monster contract.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 04, 2022 at 03:13 am

Agreed. Tonyan might have had a big 2020 because the offensive line with Bakh, Jenkins, Linsley and Turner was rock solid and needed no help. That allowed LaFleur to fully use the playbook and the illusion of complexity. Or not.

1 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

August 03, 2022 at 12:54 pm

" I'm just, like, smiling internally because I'm like... Some people forgot."

All I'll say to Tonyan is you gave a glimpse into what might be, but not enough to think yourself an 'unforgettable'. I hope you can get back and make yourself an unforgettable player.

7 points
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Coldworld's picture

August 03, 2022 at 01:10 pm

Fair enough, but having Tonyan likely improves our offensive options even if he’s not back to 2020. I am not going to rely on that, but an additional option with experience would be a plus in a position where injuries are common.

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TarynsEyes's picture

August 03, 2022 at 01:21 pm

You should have stopped at " Fair enough" because everything you said after that implied I didn't think Tonyan to be needed or of value to the Offense and I surely implied no such thing if my last sentence was read in the context that it was meant to be.

With that, I agree with your comment, but not how you directed it to what I didn't say.

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Coldworld's picture

August 03, 2022 at 03:28 pm

I had no intention of implying such thoughts might exist in your head. Only to comment that a non 2020 version would still be a positive addition, in my opinion.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

August 03, 2022 at 02:13 pm

He never said he was unforgettable. I think he just said a lot of time has gone by since his great 2020 season and he's smiling at the chance to make people remember he can be an impact player.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

August 03, 2022 at 02:13 pm

He never said he was unforgettable. I think he just said a lot of time has gone by since his great 2020 season and he's smiling at the chance to make people remember he can be an impact player.

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TarynsEyes's picture

August 03, 2022 at 02:51 pm

Yes, it's been ages since he played and how dare some forget how little in the grand scope that he has contributed.

Tonyan has the tools to be what some have already likely deemed him, a GBP Ring of Honor TE, when in fact, he can more likely be forgotten about in a year or two. He has a lot more to do before he can claim, less allowed, any level of forgotten. No matter how he says it. He has not come close to making that kind of eligible mark as a Packer or a player, and if that's a belief, then that bar is set really low. He can, but he's nowhere near the playing time and the consistency needed to justify such. At the moment, he's still in the 'if only' state of play. I'll be hoping for him to achieve it.

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Johnblood27's picture

August 03, 2022 at 09:07 pm

so far he is no Paul Coffman, Rich McGeorge, Ed West, Mark Chmura, Keith Jackson, Bubba Franks or a Jermichael Finley.

More like a Jared Cook, a one year wonder...

I hope he surpasses all of the above, but he has gotta do it to earn it.

Welcome back!

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LambeauPlain's picture

August 04, 2022 at 08:54 am

Jared Cook could have been a 5 year wonder for the Pack.

Since TT strangely let him walk in 2016 for peanuts, Cook has 207 receptions, 2,652 yards and 19 TD. In fact, his least productive season over the last 5 years was in Green Bay.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

August 03, 2022 at 02:06 pm

Big fan of Tonyan and convinced he is going to have a huge year in part because of the veteran WR's propensity for injury, and the youth of the rookie WR's.

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LLCHESTY's picture

August 03, 2022 at 01:23 pm

A writer yesterday said he thought Hill looked the closest to comeback and Tonyan was right behind him. Hill was running cone drills and looked pretty good.

3 points
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HawkPacker's picture

August 03, 2022 at 03:01 pm

I think Bakh is very close as well based on the video of him that I saw recently.

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Coldworld's picture

August 03, 2022 at 03:31 pm

If he was running cone drills at near full speed, then that is close because that stresses the injured tissue. Straight line running is much less indicative. Let’s hope no adverse reactions or ancillary issues.

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LambeauPlain's picture

August 03, 2022 at 06:20 pm

I hope Hill is back to the form that foreshadowed a good future back for the Pack. With Taylor now injured (groin), getting Hill back is important. Not that the rookies may not surprise...some good players. But Hill can be the 3rd RB and be a good one.

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TheVOR's picture

August 03, 2022 at 02:22 pm

I’m bullish on Tyler Davis right now, especially if Tonyan isn’t ready. Tyler Davis is blocking really well and he’s a nice sized target. Just need to get Rogers on board.

7 points
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Coldworld's picture

August 03, 2022 at 03:33 pm

I think Davis will be here with Tonyan regardless. He’s the general purpose TE they have been wanting for a while.

4 points
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TheVOR's picture

August 03, 2022 at 05:46 pm

Might be a better Blocker than Tonyan.

1 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

August 03, 2022 at 07:13 pm

A TE room of Big Bob, Big Dog, Deguara and Davis is a diverse group of skills giving the O options.

I am thinking Deguara takes a big step following his so so season last year after the 2020 injury. It may take Tonyan time to get back to full swing, much like Deguara. Those two guys could really stress defenses.

1 points
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T7Steve's picture

August 03, 2022 at 02:35 pm

What stood out to me in 2020 was that he only had one drop (I think). He worked his way back into AR's trust just before he got hurt in 21, but also had to help allot more with blocking to help the O-line.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 03, 2022 at 02:38 pm

The consistent/persistent word is that he will be ready for the opener. If he’s healthy, he’s our best receiving option at TE.

We only targeted the TE spot about six times per game last year, Our TEs are blockers first and receivers last. I think Lewis is great, but I’d like to see a few of his snaps go to Tonyan, and I’d like to see the position targeted more.

Tonyan is correct, imo, that everything happens for a reason. Without adversity there is no victory

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T7Steve's picture

August 03, 2022 at 02:44 pm

I think it all still revolves around how well the O-line is jelling. The better they are the more looks for him or the others in sneaking out to get some passes.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 03, 2022 at 03:12 pm

I certainly agree that everything on offense depends on getting people blocked.

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Bure9620's picture

August 03, 2022 at 02:55 pm

I am not betting on anyone coming off a serious injury. We"ll see. Some respond beautifully, others not so much. Certainly not betting on Bahk either. Yes his ACL is repaired. The tissue is not. If he is having to drain sigficant amounts fluid from his knee over a year later?? This indicates an inflammatory response. Could be injured cartilage. He had a subsequent procedure to "clean it up" Well, "cleaning up" a joint means removing tissue...that could be viable or non viable tissue. Even if Bahk is back, it would be highly unlikely he returns to an All Pro level. It's been 19 months. That is not a normal healing trajectory.

5 points
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PatrickGB's picture

August 03, 2022 at 06:14 pm

I think that’s why the third surgery was probably for something other than ACL.

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Bure9620's picture

August 03, 2022 at 06:44 pm

Correct the ACL is healed as I referenced.

2 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

August 03, 2022 at 06:25 pm

Big Bob is brimming with potential. Great move TE talent who has worked on his blocking and coaches said it showed last year...then the devastating injury.

To paraphrase the quote from the swim coach in Dangerfield's Back to School: "Come on Tonyan...we need ya!"

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Grandfathered's picture

August 03, 2022 at 10:45 pm

If he doesn't work out we could get Jace Sternberger from Pittsburgh.

1 points
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Bure9620's picture

August 04, 2022 at 02:30 am

He didn't, tried that

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porupack's picture

August 04, 2022 at 07:38 am

Or Colt Lyerla.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

August 04, 2022 at 01:29 pm

Might have a hard time getting an ankle bracelet over the pads. My understanding is he was still imprisoned from when he escaped from jail and was found OD'd.

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Dzehren's picture

August 04, 2022 at 12:55 am

Most importantly, when will Tonyan be a full contact participant?
When will "Me first" be on the field?

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marpag1's picture

August 04, 2022 at 01:09 pm

If having a good attitude were the sole deciding factor, or even the main one, then virtually every late round draft pick or UDFA would become an all pro. But it isn't. So none of this really sways me much. Let's see if he can produce.

2 points
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