At this time last year, Lane Taylor was ecstatic to make Green Bay’s 53-man roster. This season Taylor is one of the Packers’ top offensive line reserves, the next man up if a guard limps off the field.
Green Bay entered training camp with outstanding depth. The Packers were so deep Taylor could have been fighting to retain his job.
Everything changed when Don Barclay, the Packers’ backup at virtually every offensive-line position, suffered a torn ACL.
Taylor, an undrafted free agent who beat long odds to make the Packers’ roster last season, suited up for 10 games last season but played only a handful of snaps. This year he figures to see a lot more playing time.
“This training camp has been a complete 180 (degree turnaround) for me,” Taylor said. “Last year I had no idea what to expect. Knowing what to expect helped me with everything the second time around, including my off-season conditioning program.”
When the Packers close out the preseason against Kansas City on Thursday night at Lambeau Field, Taylor can use it as a tune-up, confident he’s one of the players Green Bay is counting on.
Taylor, who turns 25 during the season, said he’s ready when needed. He’s only one snap away. Green Bay’s top two reserve linemen are Taylor and Derek Sherrod, a former first-round pick who has battled back from a broken leg.
Besides Barclay, the Packers have been playing without starting center JC Tretter, who has been hobbled a knee injury. Green Bay coaches are encouraged that rookie Corey Linsley, a fifth-round pick out of Ohio State, has capably filled the void.
In training camp, Taylor has concentrated on setting a lower base to give him more leverage. After faring well in trench battles during his 47 starts at Oklahoma State, Taylor gains confidence when he wins battles in practice with players like B.J. Raji.
“I knew their season was long, but when you experience it you find out it’s really long,” Taylor said. “It hits you when you’re watching bowl games and our season isn’t even over yet, and lasts a lot longer for those teams that make a run to the Super Bowl.”
The Packers are one of the teams capable of making that run behind star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay opens the season Sept. 4 in Seattle, a high-profile showdown against the defending Super Bowl champions.
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