GREEN BAY, Wis. – "Widen your stance, move your feet back," Green Bay Packers tight end coach Brian Angelichio shouted to Robert Tonyan as his position group ran through individual blocking drills early in Monday's practice.
Tonyan, who played quarterback for McHenry in high school and transitioned to wide receiver for his final years at Indiana State, is in Year 2 of learning the tight end position. And he continues to learn the blocking portion of the new spot.
But at 6-foot-5 and 248 pounds – nearly 15 pounds more than last year – he's also shown the ability to make plays. About an hour later, during a full-team red zone drill, Tonyan rose high above a defender and caught a Brett Hundley pass in the back right corner of the end zone.
That's something Tonyan has been doing for years.
And it's not the first time he's shown that ability during camp with the Packers, who are currently sit with a tight end room filled with new faces and new opportunites.
"It felt good to just make plays, especially in the red zone," Tonyan said of the catching the Hundley pass in full-team drills. "I just like to dominate that area of the field. To show my production down there."
The Packers signed Jimmy Graham this offseason to be their main offensive threat at tight end, while both Marcedes Lewis and Lance Kendricks are proven producers in the NFL.
But Tonyan, who signed with the Packers the first week of December last year, is in the room with them and learning by the day, getting reps alongside them. During the Packers' preseason opener last Thursday night, Tonyan entered the game late in the first half and caught a 10-yard pass from DeShone Kizer over the middle.
When asked about the opportunities Tonyan has been getting over the past few weeks, Angelichio recently said "we’re just trying to mix different guys in there, give them opportunities with the 1s, 2s. Keep guys crisp and throw them into situations and see how they respond, regardless of where they are on the depth chart. ... It’s an opportunity for him to keep working on the nuances of the position and certainly the blocking and the protection that goes into it."
The blocking that goes along with playing tight end is something Tonyan spent plenty of his offseason working on while living back home in McHenry, rehabbing a hip injury and working with C.J. Fiedorowicz, the Johnsburg grad and former Houston Texans tight end who retired last spring after four NFL seasons.
"He trained me every day," Tonyan said. "It was nice to have somebody who was that caliber of blocker who was in the NFL. ... He showed me how to be a pro."
Tonyan said his mother and Fiedorowicz's have been friends for years, so it was easy to start working with each other as each progressed in their careers.
Now, it's a matter of learning from his coaches and teammates and doing whatever he can to get noticed, which could result in making the Packers' practice squad again this year if he doesn't make the team's 53-man roster.
"I feel I can confidently play in these games because I know what I'm doing rather than just going out there and guessing (like last year)," Tonyan said. "I just can't be thankful enough with the position I am in and the guys in my room. Seeing how everyone's uplifting. There's nowhere to go but up."