When Scott Wells landed the starting job at center as a redshirt freshman for the University of Tennessee, he never let go of it.
Now he's looking to do the same thing with the Green Bay Packers.
Wells made 49 consecutive starts for the Volunteers before being drafted in the seventh round by the Packers in 2004. That streak was the third-longest in college football history among offensive linemen.
Whether or not Wells can put together a similar ironman streak in the NFL remains to be seen, but his performance in mini-camps and organized team activities (OTAs) this offseason has him on his way to his first full-time starting job in the NFL.
"I'm hoping to step out and make a statement at the center position and keep it for a long time," he said. "That's the way I look at it. This is my opportunity to lock down on a position and hold onto it for 10 years."
Wells, who missed Tuesday's practice because of a personal matter, earned his share of playing time his first two years in Green Bay. In 2005, he started twice at center in place of an injured Mike Flanagan and eight times at left guard after earning the job in Week 10.
He'd prefer not to switch positions anymore, but learning multiple spots as a young NFL player was far more a benefit than a hassle for Wells.
"Having the eight starts at guard last year helped me out tremendously in understanding the center role even more," he said. "Being able to move out further from the center, being able to see how the guard operates, you learn how the tackle operates also. So that furthers your whole understanding of the offense."
Flanagan, who started 64 games for the Packers from 2000-2005 and signed with the Houston Texans in the offseason, played a role in Wells' development as well. Whether he was shoulder-to-shoulder with Flanagan in the trenches or taking his place and getting advice from the sidelines, Wells soaked up all he could from the former Pro Bowler.
"He really helped me evolve my game, helped me recognize things and not have tunnel vision where I'm just focused on what my responsibility is," Wells said. "He really made me broaden my understanding of the game, and I'm thankful for getting to play with a guy like that."
Now it's Head Coach Mike McCarthy who's thankful to have someone knowledgeable and reliable to anchor what is likely to be a very young interior to the offensive line. The latest No. 1 unit in the OTAs has rookies Jason Spitz and Daryn Colledge at the guard spots.
"I really like the way Scott goes about his business," McCarthy said. "He has a very blue-collar approach to everything he does.
"The biggest thing you look for in that position is consistency, and he applies that on a daily basis. Obviously when you're not talking about your center too much it usually means he's doing a very good job, and we haven't had a lot of conversations."
That's just fine with the quiet, businesslike Wells, whose track record indicates he doesn't expend much energy fretting over his job status.
"I approach it as, until they say it's not me, it is me," he said. "It's my position and if they're going to name somebody else that person is going to have to take it from me."
Favre to miss last day
McCarthy said that quarterback Brett Favre was leaving today and would not participate in the final OTA on Wednesday.
Favre participated in the majority but not all of the OTAs and McCarthy feels the workload was about right, allowing him to work on the installation of the offense but not wear him out prior to training camp.
"We did a pitch count on him the whole time he was here and we kept him under 100 throws a week," McCarthy said. "We felt really good about the amount of work he got done in this last month."
One more day
With just one practice left before the players are dismissed until training camp, McCarthy noted how valuable the offseason has been.
From work in the weight room to individual position coaching to mini-camps and OTAs, McCarthy feels all the "newness" that comes with a coaching change is out of the way and the team is ready to move forward.
"What we accomplished over a 13-week period from March 20 is really unprecedented here," McCarthy said. "We're 30 percent higher in attendance than anything they've ever had for a whole offseason program.
"Am I pleased with the attendance at the OTAs? We need to improve that, that is a fact. But more importantly it's not about statistics. It's about what guys have accomplished."
Many of those individual accomplishments came in the weight room, where strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson implemented an entirely new offseason regimen.
"You talk to different players and you see the gains they've made," McCarthy said. "You have individuals who have 8 to 10 pounds of lean muscle mass that they've been able to (add) being in Rock's program.
"I'm pleased with the amount of work we got done but to me it's just a foundation of how good it's going to be."