Sitton Making Most Of Opportunity In Camp

One of the position battles garnering the most attention during training camp has been at left guard, where Daryn Colledge and Allen Barbre are competing for the starting position. But the strong play of rookie Josh Sitton thus far has brought on added competition at the opposite guard spot.

With center Scott Wells sitting out practice since last Friday night with trunk injury, the line has had to do some shuffling. Jason Spitz, who started seven games last season at right guard and entered camp as the starter there, has been shifting inside to center in Wells' place, with Sitton working as the No. 1 right guard.

After practice on Tuesday, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Sitton has taken full advantage of the opportunity he has been given.

"That's why we're going to give him an opportunity to compete and win the right guard position, and really kind of take Daryn and Allen Barbre and Jason and really kind of work a three- or four-man rotation in the left guard and center position," McCarthy said.

Sitton was drafted in the fourth round this year out of Central Florida, where he blocked for running back Kevin Smith, who posted the second-best single season rushing total in NCAA history with 2,567 yards in 2007. Sitton was one of only two players in school history to play in 50 games, and showed his versatility by playing both guard spots and right tackle during his career for the Golden Knights.

"We had him in here for a pre-draft visit and he displayed very good awareness on the board, going over various things on the board," offensive line coach James Campen said. "He's able to transfer that on the field. His awareness for a young person is very good. He makes good decisions, understands the scheme, and doesn't have mental errors."

With the depth that the Packers possess at offensive line, Sitton has been able to focus on one spot, which Campen said is an advantage for the newcomer.

"It does help a lot," Campen said. "When Daryn and Jason and Tony Moll came in, they had to move around a little bit. We didn't have as much depth, but we feel like we have depth now in that room. It has enabled him to just sit and lock in on one spot, which will help a young player.

"His awareness is just very good for a young guy. As far as working and finishing and those things, he does a terrific job with that. He's going to get an opportunity to run with this first group a little bit, and we'll just see how it goes."

Although Sitton wasn't necessarily expecting to be competing for a starting position this early in his career, his belief in his abilities is apparent.

"You come into an NFL training camp and you are ready to compete," Sitton said. "Obviously you want to come in and make the team as your number one goal. When playing time comes up, you obviously want to compete for that and that's what I'm doing.

"I know what I am capable of. I am very confident in myself as a football player. I respect the level of competition at this level and I realize that everyone is great here, but I also am very confident in myself and know what I can do. If I put my mind to it, physically and mentally I know I can do it."

That self-assuredness came through during his pre-draft visit, something that he has carried over now on the practice field and in the film room.

"He did a very nice job with how he handled himself," Campen said. "The game isn't too big for him, so he's not intimidated by the scheme or the volume that we have."

That young offensive line in McCarthy's first season at the helm in '06 is now made up of players with quite a bit of experience under their belt, which Sitton has leaned on during camp.

{sportsad300}"It helps to have all of that experience around you early on in your career and not necessarily have to rely 100 percent on yourself," Sitton said. "You can look over and they are going to tell you what to do, they're going to get you right. Just having that experience around me is obviously a huge benefit for my success.

"All of them have been great. Spitz, (Mark) Tauscher, Wells, I mostly deal with them on the right side. They have all been great helping me with the playbook if I need it or on the field giving me pointers. They are all real good guys and very helpful to us rookies."

Tauscher, who started 14 games at right tackle during his rookie season in 2000, can relate to what a young offensive lineman like Sitton is experiencing.

"It's not as difficult as you think," Tauscher said. "You kind of just have to get over the fact that, 'Wow, this is a great position I'm in,' and that lasts about a day. Then if you're not playing well, you'll get yanked out. It's a situation where I think his ability to stay even-keeled and not let things overwhelm him has been one of his biggest strengths, other than the fact that he is a really good football player."

Even though the progress Sitton has made in just a few short months has drawn the attention of both coaches and teammates, his focus is on improving and competing every day.

"Coming in to rookie camp and OTAs, you're kind of a deer-in-the-headlights rookie, don't know what to expect," Sitton said. "You get through that and you kind of learn the playbook through all of that, which is a huge help so you're not just coming into camp and taking all of this on.

"Getting this first week of camp done and getting the pads on and kind of learning that you can play here, that definitely builds your confidence. You've got to take that and run with it. You can't just let that be it."

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