GREEN BAY – It didn’t take long for Jason Spriggs to get into a routine once the 2017 season ended.
The Packers’ third-year offensive tackle knew his offseason would start in Green Bay while rehabbing the knee injury he sustained in the team’s Week 16 contest against Minnesota.
With that in mind, Spriggs sought to make the most of his time at the team’s facilities. So he established a plan with Packers director of performance nutrition Adam Korzun and the strength and conditioning staff to add more weight to his 6-foot-6 frame.
The regimen called for Spriggs to eat. A lot.
“I would wake up, have a mini-breakfast, go back to sleep, and come in here,” Spriggs explained after minicamp practice Tuesday. “Have breakfast here, lift, workout, lunch and then it’s snack and a meal before dinner, then it’s dinner and then a snack before bed. It’s just spreading things out throughout the day and keeping your body working.”
Photos: First day of minicamp
Take a look at photos from the first day of minicamp where the Packers practiced at Ray Nitschke Field.
Spriggs’ motivation was two-fold – he wanted to be more of a force in the run game and stouter against bull rushes off the edge. Spriggs estimates his weight is hovering around 320 pounds (he was listed at 301 last season).
A physical specimen with rare measureables, Spriggs wowed scouts back in 2016 when he ran a 4.94-second time and did 31 bench press reps at the NFL Scouting Combine. Yet, it’s never been easy for him to gain weight dating back to his high school days.
This offseason helped changed that, and even after he was cleared from the knee injury and could train elsewhere, Spriggs stayed in Green Bay from beginning to end in hopes of building on his early momentum.
The difference has been tangible this offseason. It’s evident Spriggs has a fuller torso and thicker lower body.
“You can see in his body, he’s made some very strong gains in his size, his strength,” run-game coordinator/offensive line coach James Campen said. “He’s a kid going into his third year and wants to make sure he’s going to give it everything he can.
“Ultimately, it’s going to come down to his performance and how he handles things. I know this, that he’s in a lot better physical shape and mindset than he’s been the previous two years, in my opinion.”
Spriggs dodged a major bullet in December against the Vikings. While he was diagnosed with a dislocated knee cap, the cartilage behind his knee cap was fine and doctors determined Spriggs wouldn’t require surgery.
Being smart with his workload, the Packers cleared Spriggs to take reps at right tackle with the starting offense during Tuesday’s minicamp practice.
The Packers are optimistic about the long-term prognosis for starter Bryan Bulaga at the position, but his rehab from knee surgery has opened up offseason reps for both Spriggs and fellow 2016 draft classmate Kyle Murphy.
It’s been a good experience for Spriggs, a former left tackle at Indiana who has been gradually honing his technique on the right side. He appeared to be settling in there last season before a hamstring injury landed him on injured reserve early on.
The main thing Spriggs wanted to get out of the offseason program – aside from a clean bill of health – was reassurance his body would respond well to his added weight. So far, so good.
“Right now and in OTAs, it was being able to play at the weight,” Spriggs said. “Keeping the foot speed to be agile and things like that. In the future, I think it’s going to be getting comfortable at whichever place they put me in, and being the consistent player I can be.”
Every day is a learning experience for Spriggs. With veterans excused this week, it’s given Spriggs, Murphy and the rest of the Packers’ young O-linemen a few more reps to work with.
“I don’t know if there’s going to be a home right now. I’m just trying to play my best wherever I get a shot to go in and play,” Spriggs said. “If it’s right tackle, trying to get better at right tackle. If it’s left tackle, it’s left tackle. Right now the way it’s working out, I’m taking the reps at right tackle. But who knows? You just never know. It’s more about making the most out of every opportunity you can get.”