Two Of A Kind: Second-Year Guards Grow Together

Jason Spitz and Daryn Colledge arrived at training camp with a lot of anxious adrenaline last year. The rookie guards had the arduous task of learning new players, new coaches, a new playbook and getting to know each other. As it turns out, they’re quick studies. - More | www.PackersTrainingCamp.com

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Jason Spitz and Daryn Colledge arrived at St. Norbert College, site of the Green Bay Packers training camp dormitories, with a lot of anxious adrenaline last year. The rookie guards had the arduous task of learning new players, new coaches, a new playbook and getting to know each other.

As it turns out, they're quick studies.

Spitz and Colledge's on-field accomplishments are exceeded only by their growing friendship off the field.

"We hit it off from the get-go as you can tell," Spitz said. "We've gotten along since we've been here, which is good, because they seem to have paired us together since Day 1. It's been a great relationship between the two of us and hopefully it will last a long time."

Just watching Spitz and Colledge interact together, it's easy to see why the two have developed such a strong bond. Colledge's laid-back and strong-toned personality compliments Spitz's boisterous, sarcastic and full-of-life character.

Hailing from opposite ends of the country with Colledge growing up on South Santa Claus Lane in North Pole, Alaska, (seriously), and Spitz coming from Jacksonville, Fla., the two men were roomed together in training camp.

When asked what it is like living together, Spitz replied: "It's a fantasy come true."

The fruits of their friendship were sown during that rookie training camp; however, the fantasy has extended into the offseason.

Among their many activities during their downtime, the pair shot machine guns in Las Vegas, fished in Alaska in "23 hours of daylight", went snowmobiling, went dune buggying in the desert and visited Chicago, Milwaukee and toured the state of Wisconsin.

"I think they're old brothers, adopted by different families," said starting center Scott Wells, who is surrounded by the pair during games. "They're very close. Young guys coming in together as rookies will naturally gravitate to each other and bond. They've done an excellent job in that category."

In fact, it's possible that the only reprieve they have from each other is when they're on the football field.

"We have Scott to split us up so we're not spending too much affectionate time together," Colledge said.

{sportsad300}The Packers have been searching for suitable replacements at the guard position since the departure of Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle in 2005. In the past two seasons, Green Bay had seven different starters at the guard position. It only took one draft and two selections to solve the problem.

"When we talk about the blue print of the Green Bay Packers we talk about the offensive and defensive line," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "That's where we put our emphasis. The transactions we've made for our football team reflect that. It all starts up front."

The Packers addressed the offensive line issue in the 2006 draft, selecting Colledge in the second round (47th overall) and Spitz in the third round (75th overall).

Though the season would eventually prove to be a success for both men, the tandem had its fair share of setbacks in the early going.

Spitz (6-foot-3, 300 pounds) earned his first start in the Packers' season opener against the Chicago Bears but suffered a right thigh bruise that kept him out of the starting lineup for the next three games.

Colledge (6-4, 305) was penciled in as a starter after Green Bay made him the highest-selected Alaskan-born player in NFL history (again, seriously - besting Reggie Tongue by 11 slots). However, after struggling in the team's first preseason game at San Diego, Colledge lost his starting job. Instead of sulking, Colledge continued to work and waited for his opportunity.

That opportunity, ironically, occurred when his friend Spitz went down. Colledge stepped in for his injured roommate and has never looked back, earning Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie Team honors.

Spitz returned in Week 5 against the St. Louis Rams and the duo has been in the Packers starting lineup ever since.

"It's a credit to them how many games they started last year," offensive line coach James Campen said. "They're both just hard-working kids and it's tremendous to be around people like that."

Wells agrees with Campen's assessment.

"It's great to play with guys like that," he said. "They stepped in as rookies last year and proved that they can play at this level. They're solid performers. With that experience under their belt and a year of experience with Chad, Mark and myself will definitely help them."

Campen sees progress in both players and feels that they could have another strong year in 2007.

"Both have better footwork and improved their conditioning," said Campen, who tutored the young guards last season. "Daryn is physically stronger. Spitz improved his flexibility."

With a fresh season and fresh legs, Spitz and Colledge are looking to build on their rookie seasons and become a mainstay on the Packers' offensive line.

"Being guards and playing on the same team and having a good relationship is huge," Colledge said. "Obviously, (Mark) Tausch(er) and (Chad) Clifton have done it at the tackle spots for the last seven years and have a good relationship. Hopefully Spitz and I can do the same thing. We'd like to be the foundation here for a long time if Green Bay will have us."

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