GREEN BAY – Packers fans have a lot of questions about Colt Lyerla. The simple one he can answer right away is how to pronounce his last name. It’s LIE-urr-luh, emphasis on the first syllable. If he’s going to be among the most talked about Packers during the offseason, might as well say his name right.
The rookie tight end is in the spotlight for two main reasons: what he’s done off the field and what people feel he might be able to do on it. On the field, he is undoubtedly athletic, 6’4 and 242 pounds, running a 4.61 second 40-yard dash at the combine with a 39 inch vertical jump. Off the field, Lyerla left his college team at the University of Oregon and had several run-ins with the law, including an arrest for cocaine possession.
“I don’t ever think I was a bad person,” said Lyerla. “I think I made some dumb mistakes, for sure. They’re very public now. That’s part of the game in this day and age. I’m just ready to move forward.”
Those off-field questions left him undrafted and unsigned immediately after the NFL Draft, making the Packers only after getting a tryout spot at rookie camp. He was surrounded by cameras and recorders during the first availability of organized team activities (right after he got to town, he reminds a reporter), and is happy to be settling into a routine and learning how to be a professional.
“After being here for a while, knowing more people, it definitely makes things easier, you know?” said Lyerla. “My main thing is I just didn’t want that to be a distraction.”
Upon signing Lyerla, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy acknowledged his new tight end’s past, saying on May 29th the team was “excited about helping a young man that’s been through what he’s been through.” McCarthy said Lyerla would need to just “be like everybody else,” and to this point in the offseason, that means being treated like everybody else.
“Colt isn’t treated any differently,” said Green Bay tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot. “He doesn’t require any more attention than anybody else at this position. I think he’s a good kid and he wants to help us win.”
Lyerla sees things the same way, and focused on learning the playbook and making plays at practice. He’s aware Packers fans know about his past and are excited about his potential at tight end, especially with the status of Jermichael Finley still in doubt. His focus is on earning a spot on the team, and says he has what it takes to make an impact in the NFL.
“I think the main thing is just athleticism and hustle,” said Lyerla of what sets him apart. “We’ll see how far that gets me.”