GREEN BAY – The offseason was as mentally therapeutic as it was physically exhaustive for Sean Rhyan.
Coming off a challenging rookie season in which he played just one regular-season game, the Packers offensive lineman revamped everything while preparing for his second go-round in Green Bay.
The former third-round pick adopted a new approach to weight training and ran across California beaches to improve his cardio. While cleaning up his diet, Rhyan also stopped eating after 8 p.m. to boost his metabolism and reduce glucose levels.
For all the changes Rhyan made, however, there was one internal factor he needed to conquer before the rest mattered: The power of confidence.
"Last year, with all the plays, I was thinking too much, and it wasn't allowing me to fire off the ball and play my game within our offense," Rhyan said.
"This year, I feel like I'm starting to get back to that. ... I feel better. I feel like I'm starting to get back to Sean Rhyan and who I am."
Last season was the first time Rhyan had ever stood on the sidelines. The 6-foot-5, 321-pound offensive lineman started all 31 games he played at UCLA, beginning with the Bruins' 2019 opener at Cincinnati during Rhyan's true freshman year.
He came in with the right attitude, studied the Packers' playbook and took the reps in practice, but something didn't quite click. Of course, Rhyan was being asked to play guard for the first time.
He banked the reps and took mental notes but ultimately played just one special-teams snap during the regular season. Rhyan then saw his season ended prematurely due to a six-game suspension for violating of the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Rhyan is the first to admit mistakes were made but last year taught him a valuable lesson about the level of detail – both on and off the field – required to thrive at football's highest level and provided a framework for how Rhyan needed to attack his offseason.
Rhyan still weighs the same as he did before, but his body composition is vastly different through proper dieting, his approach to the weight room, and all the miles logged on the California coast.
A native of Laguna Hills, Calif., Rhyan always has incorporated beach running into his training but was more intentional about his workouts this summer.
"Cardio was kind of the main thing going into this OTAs to camp," Rhyan said. "It was more staying fit lifting and then more emphasis on running. Lifting just to keep my connected tissue good but running was the main thing. Running quite a bit just so that when I came back, I was able to get back into football shape a little bit quicker."
Rhyan has felt a difference so far in camp and his coaches have seen it translate on the field. Even before the Packers put on the pads last week, coaches sensed more confidence emitting from Rhyan.
It has him off to a strong start while primarily playing left guard with the second-team offensive line.
"I'm excited about just his approach that he's taken," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said recently. "I think he's in much better shape than he was a year ago. I think that's pretty evident. Hopefully he can build upon that and continue to learn and grow within our offense."
Feeling like a guard now, Rhyan has strung together a series of solid performances in one-on-ones while working against Colby Wooden, Karl Brooks and 2022 draft classmate Devonte Wyatt, who's been impressive in his own right.
During Saturday's Family Night practice, Rhyan went toe-to-toe with Wyatt and was one of the first this summer to keep his feet and stay in front of the 6-foot-3, 304-pound bulldozer on back-to-back reps.
"Wyatt, he's definitely a good player. He's been doing some damage in camp," Rhyan said. "I think (it) was a good couple sets. He almost got me on a couple, and I got him. I think the trade-off was good."
Now, Rhyan looks to build upon that momentum this week in Cincinnati – first during Wednesday's joint practice with the Bengals and then during Friday's preseason opener.
Nearly a year since the last time he's played offensive snaps, Rhyan cannot wait to step back into the trenches with his linemen and show how far he's come.
"This year, I'm coming out flying," Rhyan said. "Not really make up (for lost time) but do my part and help the team go farther than we did last year, one game at a time, one week at a time, and during camp one day at a time.
"That's my mindset – every day, step by step, getting better."