GREEN BAY – It’s been a whole different offseason for Lane Taylor in 2019.
A year ago, the Packers’ starting left guard didn’t take a single snap in the spring. His rest and recovery from offseason ankle surgery lasted all the way until the start of training camp and beyond.
This year, he took short respites when necessary but otherwise was getting all the prep he lost out on in 2018.
“My health is good, man,” Taylor said during the Packers’ recently concluded minicamp. “I was just getting out of a boot last year, so definitely much different. It’s good I’m out here in OTAs, not on the sideline banged up. I’m feeling healthy, feeling good.
“It was a lot of reps that I missed. This year, it’s a lot of reps I got, especially with the new system. I was really glad I didn’t miss this one. I’ve just been polishing my technique so I’m not starting this process in July or August.”
That was admittedly part of the problem last year for Taylor, though the 6-foot-3, 324-pound lineman is loath to make excuses.
After a subpar season for both him and the team ended, Taylor confessed his ankle didn’t feel fully healthy until midseason, around early November. Then foot and knee injuries cropped up in the final month when he was hoping to finish strong.
It’s all behind him now, but he wasn’t oblivious to all the outside criticism of his play and some of the speculation about his future when the Packers added two new guards, free agent Billy Turner and second-round draft pick Elgton Jenkins.
But Taylor didn’t get distracted. He just focused on using the offseason to learn new Head Coach Matt LaFleur’s system and get back to being the steady, reliable guard he was in his first two years as a starter in 2016-17.
Quiet by nature, Taylor wasn’t about to head into his pre-training camp break making some bold proclamation about the coming season, but he won’t argue with the idea he has something to prove.
The Packers were on the practice field Tuesday afternoon for the offseason program.
“Absolutely. I personally don’t feel like I played as good as I should have or could have, really,” he said. “It is what it is. It’s not like I can go back and change anything. I did everything in my power I could.
“I just want to stay on the path this year. I played good football in the past, so it’s not like I need to step outside myself to play well. Just perfect my craft. But it will give me a bit of a chip on my shoulder, because I don’t want to play bad. I want to go out there and do what I can do.”
As for adapting to LaFleur’s scheme, Taylor said the biggest adjustments have been with the playbook verbiage and the linemen’s footwork. The transition will continue later this summer, but he said the entire offensive line felt a lot more comfortable after three weeks of OTAs plus minicamp than when the on-field work started in the spring.
“Once my brain slowed down a little bit, I felt a lot better,” he said. “Everyone is picking it up more. The first week, you could kind of hear everyone think, because they were thinking so hard out there. It was good for us to iron things out the past few weeks.”
Take a look back at photos of 2018 Packers Training Camp.
The pads going on in training camp will mean full-contact work in the trenches and another step in the learning process, especially with the run game. There were the expected ups and downs with creating creases and building continuity up front, but Taylor felt the offensive line didn’t wrap up the offseason program discouraged by any stretch.
The group, like Taylor himself, just wants more reps and it’ll get to where it wants to be.
“Everyone has bought in and they believe in it,” he said. “When more plays are opening up, that’s when guys are rolling off the ball, knowing what they’re doing and confident, and they just go.”