Notebook: Colledge Responds Again, Ready For Full-Time Duty

Each time Daryn Colledge’s starting job has been taken away or thrown open to competition, he has responded admirably, and he expects the upcoming playoffs to be no different. - More Audio | Video | Playoff Game Center Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Jan. 4


Offensive lineman Daryn Colledge has seen his starting job taken away from him, or at least thrown open to competition, three times in his two seasons with the Packers.

But each time - after his first preseason game as a rookie, midway through this campaign, and after a rough outing at Dallas in the regular season's biggest game - Colledge has responded admirably, and he expects the upcoming playoff game to be no different.

He didn't want to win the starting left guard spot for the postseason the way he did, though. Fellow guard Junius Coston, with whom Colledge had been competing in practice and rotating during games since the Dallas contest, injured his calf last Sunday against Detroit and is out for the remainder of the season.

But circumstances aside, it's Colledge's job full-time again, and he's looking at the playoffs to once again re-establish the coaches' trust and prove he belongs as a regular starter up front.

"Everybody goes through their own trials and tribulations," Colledge said. "I'm a young player, and this is just the very beginning of what I hope is a long career. I just have to be a more consistent player, and I'm trying to go back each time and say, 'OK, what made you a better player when you came back,' and try to stack those successes

"They're not expecting me to flat-back everybody I go against and never give up a pressure, but they are expecting me to be a consistent factor in this offense and help it perform, and I have to live up to that standard."

Colledge attributed his inconsistencies to several factors. A left tackle all through college, he's been learning the guard position since coming to Green Bay and is still getting it down. As a rookie last year, he sometimes eschewed technique in order to keep up with the faster pro game, and it showed. This year, he admits sometimes he's concentrated too much on being technically perfect, and it has slowed him down and affected his play.

He doesn't offer the explanations as excuses, but rather as an introspective look at his own growth process. Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Colledge has responded to each demotion, or challenge, with the right frame of mind, and he often sees him in offensive line coach James Campen's office or doing extra work on a players' day off, and to him that's a sign of a player who truly wants to succeed.

"I have no problem with Daryn Colledge the person and the work ethic," McCarthy said. "He works extremely well. It's important to him. You see more urgency. You see improvement. That's what you're looking for.

"Like everybody up front and our whole football team, he needs to play his best football right now. That's what we're holding each other accountable for."

Colledge believes he's been at his best this year when he's turned himself loose, and because his technique is better now than it was as a rookie, he's able to do so more successfully.

He felt he was playing fast and playing well in the weeks leading up to the Dallas game, probably his worst outing. Then he got more comfortable again over the last few games, and McCarthy noted he played well against Detroit last week, despite having to rotate in and out every series or two. That shouldn't be the case on Jan. 12, and Colledge wants to take advantage of that.

"It will be nice for me to have a chance to get in there and stay in a rhythm," Colledge said. "The back and forth stuff is always tough. When you get in there, you get a rhythm, and all of a sudden you have to sit, and then you get tight, and then all of a sudden you have to go back in and try to perform. That's tough. It's going to be nice to be in there working every down."

As for performing in the playoff spotlight, Colledge is getting used to responding to heightened scrutiny. He's grown a lot that way already.

"I've had a lot of pressure on me the last few weeks, so for me this is the same as any other week, except the difference is if we lose, we've got to go home," he said. "So everybody knows what's on the line."

Doesn't matter

Depending on the Wild Card playoff results this weekend, the Packers could end up playing the Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers or New York Giants on Jan. 12, but no one in the locker room really cares who it is.

The coaching staff and players have been doing preliminary preparation for all three. The most unfamiliar opponent would be Tampa Bay, whom the Packers haven't played since September 2005. But even the more recent opponents aren't all that recent. The Packers played the Giants this season, but way back in Week 2, and they played the Seahawks last season as well as in the preseason this year.

More than anything, the Packers are just eager to play, no matter the opponent, and it showed in the intensity at Friday's practice.

"You enjoy having the bye week, but at the same time you kind of want to be out there playing," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. "We're excited. We can't wait to play, the excitement in the meeting rooms and on the practice field, everybody is anxious to play.

"Everybody is ready to play this first game at home at Lambeau. We haven't talked about anything past that, we just know we're going to be ready to play."

Injury update

Several players who were nursing injuries as the regular season wrapped up were back to full duty in practice on Friday, including defensive tackle Ryan Pickett (groin), fullback Korey Hall (hip), receiver Greg Jennings (ankle), cornerback Charles Woodson (toe) and backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers (hamstring).

{sportsad300}Rodgers' injury was the most serious, coming just days after playing in relief of Brett Favre in Dallas. The hamstring limited him in practice and relegated him to the No. 3 quarterback for the last four weeks, but he appears ready to resume his No. 2 role for the playoffs.

"To finally put that red jersey back on felt good today," Rodgers said. "I didn't play well at all, but it was good to get back in the huddle, and move around and not have any pain. That was important, to feel comfortable and confident, and I felt good today."

Among players missing practice were guard Jason Spitz, cornerback Will Blackmon, fullback John Kuhn, tight end Bubba Franks and safety Atari Bigby.

McCarthy said Spitz (quad) and Blackmon (foot) wouldn't practice this week but said the medical staff was optimistic both would return to practice sometime next week and be ready for the playoff game. Blackmon is scheduled to test his injured foot on Monday.

If Spitz ultimately isn't able to play next week, Tony Moll would be the likely starter at right guard.

McCarthy said Kuhn had a bruise that held him out, and Bigby had travel difficulties getting back after the time off and arrived at the team facility while practice was going on. Franks' absence was not discussed during the press conference, though it's presumably related to the knee injury that kept him out of eight games this season.

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