The Green Bay Packers begin the regular season on the road Sunday, September 12th against the New Orleans Saints. Excessive damage to the city of New Orleans forced the NFL to move the game to TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.
Instead of preparing for a raucous, but climate-controlled Superdome, the Packers are preparing for oppressive heat, but a crowd that is expected to be Packers friendly.
The Packers are also preparing to take the field with two rookies starting on the offensive line. Josh Myers, a second-round pick out of Ohio State, will start at center while Royce Newman, a fourth-round selection from Ole Miss will start at guard.
Myers replaces another Ohio State product in Corey Linsley, who departed in free agency. An all-pro selection last season, Linsley signed a lucrative free agent contract with the Los Angeles Chargers making him the highest paid center in the NFL.
Linsley isn’t the only all-pro missing from the Packers offensive line. All-pro left tackle David Bakhtiari remains with the team but will miss at least six weeks continuing his recovery from a torn ACL.
“There are going to be some growing pains,” Packers Hall of Famer Mark Tauscher tells WTMJ. “But you have to remember this is not a four week or six week season. You’re in this for the long haul.”
Versatile third-year pro-bowler Elgton Jenkins will handle duties at left tackle. Lucas Patrick – a 15-game starter last season – will likely begin the season at left guard. To the right of Myers will be Newman and veteran Billy Turner. The depth of the line features a mix of young and old with John Runyan (24), Yosh Nijman (25) and Dennis Kelly (31).
Tasucher believes the on-the-fly development of the young lineman will benefit the team in the long-run.
“By the end of this season, you’ll have David Bakhtiari back – the best left tackle in football. You have a guy you feel great about in playing left tackle in Elgton Jenkins. You have two all-pro players on the left side…they depth of this offensive line…I think it’s actually going to be a positive and a strength of this team as the season continues.”
Tauscher knows all about begin a rookie offensive lineman in the NFL. Drafted in 2000, Tauscher started 14 games for the Packers at right tackle after Earl Dotson suffered an injury in week two of the regular season against the Buffalo Bills.
“I got lined up on field goal protection,” Tauscher recalls. “And Sam Adams and Ted Washington who were both probably close to 400 pounds apiece. That’s when you knew you weren’t joking around anymore. Those are moments you’ll never forget.”