GREEN BAY - The physiology of football has always fascinated Lucas Patrick, specifically when it comes to sustainability on the offensive line.
So when the Packers signed 12th-year guard Jahri Evans last April, Patrick took it upon himself to gather as much information as possible from the six-time All-Pro.
“I was talking with Jahri about developing a method that keeps your body at as high of performance as you can for as long as you can,” Patrick said. “Because he did it for a while.”
Patrick has been a sponge from the very minute he came to Green Bay as a tryout player at the Packers’ rookie orientation in 2016. While he wasn’t initially signed, the 6-foot-3, 313-pound offensive lineman returned a month later and spent his entire rookie season developing on the practice squad.
After making the jump to the Packers’ 53-man roster last summer, Patrick started two games and played 227 offensive snaps due to injuries on the offensive line, including a spot start for an injured Evans at right guard in Green Bay’s regular-season finale at Detroit.
Although Patrick finished the season with a club on his injured hand for the second time in his career, his performance didn’t wane. His rags-to-riches ascent may have surprised some, but starting center Corey Linsley wasn’t among them.
“To see him progress, I knew he could be that,” Linsley said. “You can watch a guy and tell if he has the foundation or he doesn’t. Watching him, it was obvious he had it. It was all about getting the mental stuff.”
With Evans unsigned, the Packers currently are leaning on Justin McCray, Patrick and a handful of other reserves to compete for the starting spot at right guard. Although McCray has filled that role with the No. 1 offense this spring, Patrick has been working at left guard with Lane Taylor sidelined with an ankle injury.
Taylor, a former undrafted free agent himself, has been a valuable resource for Patrick since the beginning, offering advice on what he’s doing well in drills and pointing out areas where he can improve.
It also doesn’t hurt to get snaps with two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“Any first-team reps are crucial,” Patrick said. “Whether it’s left guard, center, right guard. I mean, wherever it happens to be, whoever is up or down that day, it doesn’t really matter. I just think any time you can build chemistry with the guys up front, especially 12, it’s really important.”
Looking to maximize himself as an athlete and not just an offensive lineman, Patrick spent the offseason at ADAPT Training in Beaverton, Ore., with Minnesota Vikings offensive linemen Mike Remmers, Josh Andrews and Cornelius Edison.
Patrick, a native of Brentwood, Tenn., who played at Duke, started training on the West Coast after his fiancé and former Blue Devils tennis player, Annie Mulholland, landed a job at the Nike World Headquarters.
The regimen at ADAPT is different than most offseason training facilities geared toward offensive linemen. Instead of focusing on weight training and pure strength, Patrick concentrated on flexibility, mobility and strengthening his hips.
By the time he returned to Green Bay for the Packers’ offseason program, Patrick said he was squatting the best he has his entire life. He believes it’s helped him stay low and gain leverage during spring practices.
“I’m already a wide-bodied frame,” Patrick said. “I don’t need to go in and bulk up as much. I carry a lot naturally. So that’s why I go in there and it’s flexibility and mobility because that’s where I struggle. That’s kind of what a typical lineman might struggle with.”
First and foremost, Patrick wants to make his Cinderella story last. He believes the work he put in this offseason in Oregon is going to help him get there.
Patrick has felt a difference this spring and the Packers clearly have, too, in deciding to keep the competition at right guard in-house for the moment in lieu of an external option like last year when they signed Evans days before the NFL Draft.
“It just builds confidence in myself,” Patrick said. “While Lane is out and I’m working there, (it’s showing) I deserve to be working next to Dave (Bakhtiari) and Corey, and blocking for 12 and Brett (Hundley) when he comes in.
“There’s a lot of pride I take in that just coming from where I came from. Hopefully, I have an opportunity to stay with this team.”