Green Bay Packers guard Josh Sitton would prefer not to receive any attention from quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“Hopefully he’s not noticing me too much, because that means my guy is hitting his (expletive),” said Sitton, who can be humorous and blunt when fielding questions from the media.
Rodgers recently aimed a bright spotlight on Sitton, but in a good way. He said Sitton was snubbed in Pro Bowl voting last season and is one of the best guards in the NFL.
“Josh, every day on film, does one thing that’s spectacular. He really does,” Rodgers said. “In my opinion, he’s one of the top two or three guards in the league. Underrated obviously. … If you watch the film of that guy you see him doing things other guards don’t do. He’s just so smart over there.”
The 6-foot-3, 318-pound Sitton is entering his third season as the Packers’ starting right guard. He is smart and tough and getting better every day.
Sitton said of Rodgers’ kind words: “That’s good. Tell Aaron thank you. I appreciate the compliment.”
Sitton accepts Rodgers’ praise but admits there’s a heavy burden that comes with protecting the Packers’ franchise player.
“It’s good to have his approval,” he said. “When you’ve got a guy like that and you’re blocking for him, there’s a lot of pressure on you keeping him upright.”
It’s a responsibility he doesn’t take lightly.
“I’m not going to sit here and say it’s fun all the time, it’s not,” Sitton said. “It’s stressful. It’s kind of a pain in the (expletive). Game days aren’t even super fun until you’re winning. As an offensive lineman, you’ve got a lot of pressure on you to win and to be good and to keep Aaron upright.”
Sitton knows that one small mistake, like the sack he gave up last Friday against the Arizona Cardinals, could have dire consequences for Rodgers and the team. Maybe that’s why he is constantly striving for improvement by working on his technique, mastering the fundamentals and listening to his coaches.
“I’m really just trying to establish myself as one of the better guys in this league at (my) position,” Sitton said.
Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga thinks Sitton is already there. Bulaga was thrust into a starting role at an unfamiliar position last season and forever will be grateful for Sitton’s help.
“He’s a humorous guy,” Bulaga said. “He likes to keep things loose and light, but when it’s time to get down to business, it’s time to go. You can rely on him on anything. You know what he’s doing all the time. He communicates very well. He does everything very well out there.”
During Bulaga’s transition to right tackle last season, he didn’t escape some of Sitton’s good-natured ribbing.
“It was funny,” Sitton recalled. “I remember (Bulaga) stepping on my feet a few times that first week, and I’m like, ‘C’mon dude, quit that crap.’”
Sitton, who will become an unrestricted free agent after this season, said he would like to stay in Green Bay. But Packers General Manager Ted Thompson has a history of not re-signing guards to big contracts. Thompson let Mike Wahle, Marco Rivera and Daryn Colledge walk away in free agency.
“I’m a Ted Thompson guy,” Sitton said. “He likes to draft players and groom them to be Green Bay Packers, so we’ll see how it goes. There’s really nothing to say.”
But the prospect of receiving a new contract has crossed Sitton’s mind.
“It’s something you definitely think about,” he said. “For me, I’ve come out and just tried to play my (expletive) off since I got here, and my competitive drive and my will to win is really what drives me to play good. When you go and win championships, things like contracts and Pro Bowls and all that crap comes second.”
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.