Breno Giacomini knows the rule when it comes to blocking and being blocked — the low man wins. The problem is it just doesn’t match the natural movement of the 6-foot-7, 319-pound tackle.
Giacomini has entered a critical training camp with the Green Bay Packers. The team’s fifth-round pick in 2008 has played just one game as a professional, and he missed all of last year’s offseason workouts because of ankle surgery.
Giacomini has been working with the No. 2 unit at right tackle during training camp — a promising sign for someone standing on the edge of the making the 53-man roster. So much of the offensive line discussion has centered on starters Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, first-round draft pick Bryan Bulaga, T.J. Lang, Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz and fifth-round pick Marshall Newhouse, that Giacomini has been somewhat of an afterthought.
But he understands what’s at stake.
“I think it is (the most important year of my career),” Giacomini said. “I’ve just got to go out there and show them what I got, though. You’ve just got to put that in the back of your mind and perform.”
Giacomini didn’t move to tackle until his senior year at Louisville and still is learning the position. The No. 1 priority for the offseason was to get stronger and more flexible, which helps the body get down in position. That equates to a lot of hip exercises in the weight room in order to make those movements second nature.
Offensive linemen need leverage to run block.
“Being 6-7, it’s hard to get low,” Giacomini said. “You’ve got to bend. You’ve got to get to that aiming point and just drive those guys outta there.
“The main key is staying lower, or at least, trying to. Using size after that to overpower them. Low man wins every time and that’s what I focused on. I feel like I’m been doing better than last year.”
Coach Mike McCarthy has seen a vast improvement also and didn’t hesitate to praise Giacomini.
“Number one, Breno is healthy,” McCarthy said. “Breno has been able to string together a full year of injury-free work, and this is his time. … Really, the last hurdle for Breno is to go do it in games. He’s a tough guy. He plays the way we want our offensive linemen to play. He has a complete understanding of what’s asked of him at that right tackle position.
“The biggest thing I want to see of Breno is to play in that live action, because he’s done everything up to that point.”
Both coaches and Giacomini point to the 2009 offseason as his biggest setback. For someone in the infancy stages of learning a position, he couldn’t afford to lose all of that practice time and exhibition games.
“For him, getting reps,” offensive line coach James Campen said. “You miss a lot of reps in the offseason and you don’t get them back.
“His movements are much better.”
Those opportunities have disappeared for Giacomini, which makes these four upcoming preseason games so important. An offensive line that was ravaged with injuries in 2009 looks to be much deeper in 2010 with healthy bodies, normal progression and the addition of Bulaga and Newhouse.
The next opportunity to make a lasting impression is 7 p.m. Saturday against the Cleveland Browns.
“It’s been eight months, so there’s the transition,” Giacomini said. “It’s time we hit somebody else. … I can’t wait. It’s going to be exciting. I’m going to be nervous, I can already tell. It’s been a while.
“I’m just going to go out there and try to do what they brought me in here to do.”