Billy Turner continues to be 'unsung hero' in Packers' offense

Eighth-year veteran has helped keep the standard on the O-line

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G/T Billy Turner

GREEN BAY – A few weeks ago, Aaron Rodgers and members of the Packers' leadership council sat down for an informal roundtable discussion with the rookie class.

It's a meeting the team has conducted in the past, designed to help young players get to know the veterans while also gaining an understanding of what's expected of them at this level.

After Packers director of player engagement Grey Ruegamer pulled everyone together, Rodgers gave his own spiel to the young players seated across from him before ultimately listing off one player in particular who exemplifies what it means to be a pro: starting right tackle Billy Turner.

"I highlighted the way Billy goes about his business," recalled Rodgers this week. "You guys probably wouldn't see this a whole lot but he does the same thing just about every day. Every day he works on his pass sets after his workouts, and every day before practice he works on his pass sets and his punch.

"This is a guy who's played a lot of football. He's been in the league for a while. But his consistency at his craft is every single day and I think the best players do those things."

Turner has been an invaluable, yet understated, presence on the Packers' offensive line since he signed with the team as an unrestricted free agent during the same 2019 offseason that brought Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith to Green Bay.

Versatility and reliability have been two of Turner's greatest strengths throughout his eight NFL seasons, both of which the Packers have tapped into during his time here.

To date, Turner has started 22 games at right guard, 10 at right tackle and six at left tackle in 38 games (including playoffs) with Green Bay. His 2,217 offensive snaps played are the most on the Packers' offensive line since the start of the 2019 season.

This year has been a bit different. The Packers not only have leaned on the 6-foot-5, 310-pound offensive lineman as their starting right tackle but also as a veteran presence on the field with both All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari and Pro Bowl left guard Elgton Jenkins currently on the mend.

"I'd say he's the rock," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said of Turner. "He's such a great example for everybody to look at in terms of how he goes about his business on a daily basis. You'll see him … doing the little things in the training room, taking care of his body, 'cause he knows that for guys to go out there and play at the best of their ability they've got to get their body right.

"I think, when needed, he provides a calming voice in that room and a veteran experienced voice that those guys lean on."

While Turner says nothing changed from previous years in the leadership department, the eighth-year veteran has brought unquestionable stability to a young O-line consisting of four starters (Yosh Nijman, Jon Runyan, Josh Myers and Royce Newman) who hadn't combined for a single NFL start prior to last month's opener against New Orleans.

It's not just the rookies Turner has impacted, either. As Rodgers illustrates, even an established lineman like Jenkins followed Turner's lead after watching some pre-practice drills and exercises his fellow O-lineman was doing in training camp.

"Watching Billy Turner has been really inspiring for so many other guys," Rodgers said. "He's doing this every single day before practice in training camp and the next thing you know, Elgton's doing it too. I think that's the mark of any great pro. You kind of set the standard with your work ethic and allow for other guys to come along if they're ready."

Individually, Turner is off to another strong start at right tackle. Last week against Pittsburgh, he had the unenviable task of having to block three-time All-Pro pass rusher T.J. Watt, but as he has all season, Turner helped keep things quiet on the right side of Green Bay's line during a 27-17 victory.

While always understanding his position could change at any given moment, Turner has enjoyed the consistency that's come with playing all 257 offensive snaps at right tackle this season.

It's the position he was projected to start throughout last year before injuries pushed him inside to guard for a short time. Turner finished the year at left tackle after Bakhtiari tore his anterior cruciate ligament on New Year's Eve.

The key for Turner is preparation. In a game where players truly can only control what they control, Turner feels the extra work on the practice field is what keeps him locked in.

"I do a lot of the same things daily because at the end of the day, offensive-line play is about consistency and that is 100% about your technique," Turner said. "Usually if you get beat as an offensive lineman, yeah, there's a physical specimen across from you, but if you get beat, it's usually your technique that beats you.

"So that's why I'm very consistent with the things that I do pre-practice and post-practice because I know that consistency's the name of the game, and I know that I have to go out there and perform the same every week."

You won't find Turner throwing bouquets for himself, though. When pressed about the praise he's received from teammates and coaches this season, the 29-year-old focuses on what he could do better and the plays he'd like to have back.

With Jenkins returning to practice on Thursday in a limited capacity, there does appear to be some light forming at the end of the tunnel for the O-line. But even as Turner shies away from the individual recognition, his Packers teammates and coaches understand how integral he's been to the team's 3-1 start.

"He's the unsung hero," offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said. "(He's) such a great example to just the whole team of, 'Hey, whatever you're asked to do, just put your head down and do your best.' All the guys see that in him; just the type of person he is, he's unbelievable. We're very grateful that we've got him as our rock in the line."

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