Countdown to Camp: Experience, depth aplenty on offensive line

T/G Billy Turner
T/G Billy Turner

This is the fifth in a series of stories examining the Packers’ roster, position by position, leading up to training camp. The series continues with the offensive line.

GREEN BAY – With nearly 400 games played and more than 325 combined starts, the Packers’ presumptive starting offensive line has all the experience Matt LaFleur could ask for as a first-year head coach.

All five men blocking for quarterback Aaron Rodgers possess at least five years of NFL experience, making this year’s group perhaps the most veteran the Packers have fielded since 2015.

Three-time All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga and center Corey Linsley are readying for their sixth season together, while three-year starting left guard Lane Taylor is healthy again after an injury-riddled 2018.

Entering their prime at 27 years old, both Bakhtiari and Linsley have established themselves as two of the top players at their respective positions. While a Pro Bowl snub for a second straight year, Bakhtiari was voted first-team All-Pro after starting all 16 games at left tackle for the fourth time in his career in 2018.

The following is the fifth installment in a series of photos examining the Packers' roster position by position. This installment examines the offensive line.

Bulaga, entering his 10th NFL season, is the Packers’ longest-tenured offensive lineman by three years and one of only four remaining members of Green Bay’s Super Bowl XLV team. The 2010 first-round pick successfully returned last season from the second torn ACL of his career to make 14 starts at right tackle.

A Pro Bowl alternate in 2018, Linsley hasn’t missed a regular-season snap in more than two years, a noteworthy achievement considering Green Bay hasn’t had a backup who played the position in college during that span.

Joining Linsley and Taylor inside is free-agent acquisition Billy Turner, who made seven of his 11 starts at right guard for Denver last season. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound lineman now appears to be the frontrunner to settle Green Bay’s two-year carousel at the position.

The added benefit Turner provides is versatility. While a majority of his NFL career has been spent at guard, the 6-foot-5, 310-pound veteran has made spot starts at both tackle positions (four starts at right, one at left) since entering the league in 2014.

While the Packers would like nothing more than a healthy year for their starting five, General Manager Brian Gutekunst has assembled one of the team’s deepest and most diverse arrays of reserve linemen in recent memory.

On top of drafting Mississippi State’s Elgton Jenkins in the second round this past spring, Green Bay touts five backups (Lucas Patrick, Justin McCray, Jason Spriggs, Alex Light and Adam Pankey) with previous NFL game experience.

What’s more, Green Bay received a somewhat unexpected surprise this spring when former fifth-round pick Cole Madison (6-5, 308) returned to the team after sitting out the 2018 season for personal reasons. The four-year Washington State starter at right tackle has worked almost exclusively at the guard and center positions in Green Bay.

Jenkins started his last two collegiate seasons at center for the Bulldogs but appears to be focused on guard at the moment, which resulted in McCray and Patrick alternating with the first-team offense at center on days Linsley was resting this spring.

McCray (25 games, 13 starts) and Patrick (26 games, six starts) have been workhorses for the Packers the past two seasons, serving as the primary backups on the interior. McCray also made five starts at right tackle in 2017 out of necessity when both Bulaga and Spriggs were injured.

Rounding out the offensive line depth chart are undrafted rookies Yosh Nijman and Larry Williams, and practice-squad holdovers Anthony Coyle and Gerhard de Beer.

For the first time in more than a decade, the Packers will have a new voice leading the room in Marshfield, Wis., native Adam Stenavich, who has past experience coaching the outside-zone blocking scheme LaFleur plans to implement in Green Bay.

Stenavich, 36, spent two seasons on Green Bay’s practice squad in 2006-07. After coaching four years at the college level, Stenavich was hired an assistant offensive line coach on Kyle Shanahan’s staff in San Francisco in 2017.

It was that connection to Shanahan that led LaFleur to believe he’d be a good fit in his offense. As the Packers shift their attention to the upcoming season, Stenavich should have plenty of moldable talent to work with.

COUNTDOWN TO CAMP SERIES

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