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LaFleur: Packers' interior OL still a competition

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LaFleur: Packers' interior OL still a competition

-- Things could get interesting this summer along the interior of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line.

For Thursday night's preseason opener against the Houston Texans, nearly every member of the starting five the Packers had been practicing with throughout the offseason didn't dress for the game. All but Lane Taylor.

Taylor got the call at left guard while David Bakhtiari, Corey Linsley, Billy Turner and Bryan Bulaga -- from left to right sans Taylor -- were all scratches.

The reason for this being that Taylor's position on the team's roster is far from solidified, despite the familiarity he has as a regular member of their offensive line. Taylor has played in 46 of a possible 48 games since he was depended on as a full-time starter before in 2016. He's even shown the capacity of being able to flip out to left tackle in place of Bakhtiari when he was dealing with injury.

But with new head coach Matt LaFleur implementing a new scheme that may not view Taylor as a fit, his job could be in jeopardy.

"That's a competition and as long as that's going to be a competition, we want to see those guys go at it," LaFleur said Thursday night's win. "I thought Lane did an excellent job and handled himself the right way and again, it's always going to be about competition."

Of course, very few roster spots are penciled in so early in August. But the Packers spent a second-round pick on Elgton Jenkins in April -- a decision that may have foreshadowed Taylor's tenure in Green Bay reaching its end.

Jenkins, who played much of Thursday night's preseason opener at right guard, is expected to be a future starter on the Packers' offensive line. It's just a matter of where. The Packers signed Turner to a four-year deal in the spring, and with Bulaga entering the final year of his contract, it's possible Turner kicks out to right tackle in Bulaga's place and Jenkins steps into right guard.

Taylor has yet to play himself out of a bid for a roster spot, however. There's no reason to believe that it isn't his job to lose and that he won't continue to be a regular face on the offensive line by September, but being the only member of the current starting group to play against the Texans is somewhat telling.

The Packers also sport Lucas Patrick and Cole Madison as options at guard. Patrick has been able to fill in at both guard positions and Madison, a fifth-round pick from a year ago, played in his first career game Thursday night. He saw action at left guard. 

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (17) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"Taylor's position on the team's roster is far from solidified"

There is just about zero chance Taylor doesn't make the roster. He may end up not starting since Jenkins looks good so far. But, I would be shocked if he's cut.

greengold's picture

I totally agree. Last season was an anomaly, as the guy couldn't get any push with an injured foot, but he still tried and took a hit for it in the eyes of a lot of fans. Now that he is healthy, we are seeing Adam Taylor play very well, back to his impressive 2017 form.

Elgton Jenkins is just a stud. Played like a veteran, and he may prove to be one of many draft day steals by Gutekunst from this last draft. He's so good that he's literally pushing a very good Taylor for his starting spot.

Great.

Coldworld's picture

Based on last night Taylor makes the starting line up and it wasn’t close in run or pass based on first viewing. Jenkins looks to be coming on and that’s good nevertheless.

flackcatcher's picture

Agree CW. Taylor could be a cap cut or late trade to recap. But the Packers can do that only if they think they have a deep enough bench with starter quality. Don't see that yet with our limited view so far. But this was also a physical check on Taylor by the Packers. My guess is the extent of the injuries Taylor suffered forced the Packers to play him to see if he was at the high level necessary for a starter. Passed with flying colors. The rest was a eval of the young players to see where they fit. Packers still need to ID two other core players outside of McCray, so the Packers O line group is still a work in progress.

Daren726's picture

Lots of good options for OL. I think we will be solid.

Rustyweezee's picture

Not sure Turner is moving to right tackle. If I remember correctly, Andy Herman graded him and it would have been a better grade if his time at tackle wasn't included. Jenkins is surely a future starter and I wonder if Cole Madison doesn't make a case for himself, too. Almost feel like in a couple years we're wondering if signing Turner wasn't necessary.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Agreed (except signing Turner was at least prudent). Turner might have to move to RT depending on circumstance, but it isn't optimal unless Turner develops more.

stockholder's picture

Competition? BS. These guys were bad last night. College doesn't teach you to hold! Outrageous. I expected better. Stenavich and Butkus keep moving guys around like it's a chess match. It isn't. I keep seeing guys that can't play a position, in that position. And Jenkins and Madison at center? I'm sure we didn't draft Jenkins to play center. The problem was at Guard. Fix it. If Taylor can't play LG move him to right. The Competition is not going to help A-Rod. Holding is going to Kill any advancement.

greengold's picture

Wow. Elgton Jenkins IS a Center. He's just so good he can play Guard, and Tackle, and has experience at all 3 of those positions at Mississippi State. LaFleur and Gutekunst want versatility, and they certainly have that with Jenkins. Spent his last two years there at C, and was considered one of the top Centers in the draft.

Cole Madison impressed the hell out of me last night, considering it was his first live NFL action, and the year he had to endure in 2018.

Billy Turner is going to be fantastic for the Packers.

Adam Taylor played just fine. You're going to throw him away for a holding call in the 1st preseason game? Wow.

Johnblood27's picture

Lane
LANE

LANE TAYLOR!!!

Coldworld's picture

I commend your consistency but not your objectivity.

Bearmeat's picture

Yep.

Guam's picture

I thought Light played pretty well as the LT. He had one holding call which I thought was questionable and otherwise looked solid. Light's development had a lot to do with letting Spriggs go. The other tackles (DeBeer and Nijman) were less impressive.

I think the Packer interior line has the potential to be much better than last year. Lane Taylor is healthy and looks much better and Turner and Jenkins look like very solid additions. I am still uncertain about Madison, but he has a solid shot at the 53 and did not hurt his chances with his play last night.

We could see a near 100% turnover in the Packer backup OL this year.

Coldworld's picture

I do not understand not playing Jenkins at Center with Linsley out. Patrick is a mauler who doesn’t get to the next level. Madison is a guard who is learning Center. Jenkins is a Center learning to play Guard.

Makes it harder on the right tackle to show well, hurts the run game and wasn’t great in pass pro early against their starters. I get it in practice, but it was a head scratcher last night.

greengold's picture

Because they know Jenkins can play Center. He'll be fine. They want to get as many of their guys to be interchangeable as possible.

This is the kind of stuff preseason is for.

Guam's picture

I don't mind the cross training in practice but I am not sure about game time. I agree with ColdWorld - I would rather have seen Jenkins at C and Madison at G in a game which is much more likely where they will play during the regular season.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I liked Lights run blocking. The pass blocking was OK, no worse than Springs pass blocking and Springs can't run block at all.

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