The NFL might not see it, but Jeff Saturday sure does.
In the wake of his surprising selection to a sixth Pro Bowl this week, the 14th-year center took the moment – quite possibly his last in the NFL spotlight – to single out one of the unsung heroes on the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line this season.
That individual was starting right guard Josh Sitton, whom Saturday started 14 games next to this season before being benched in favor of Evan Dietrich-Smith this past week.
“I am disappointed for Josh Sitton,” said Saturday in the team-issued release Wednesday. “I think he should be there. It is disappointing for me, for him. I would love to be able to pass it to him. He is a tough player and has played very well all season.”
The 37-year-old Saturday has made an impression on the Packers’ young offensive line in his first and possibly only season in Green Bay, but it’s worked both ways.
A fixture in the Indianapolis Colts’ organization for 13 years, Saturday was the newbie when he arrived in Green Bay during the offseason with an offensive line that didn’t feature another player older than 26 years old.
In seeing how things were run, the veteran was immediately drawn to the leadership shown by Sitton, the team’s fourth-year starting right guard and most senior member of the unit outside of Saturday.
According to Pro Football Focus, Saturday was spot on in his estimation. This season, Sitton has allowed only two sacks and two hits in 602 passing plays this season and is tied for the ninth fewest pressures allowed this season among league guards.
However, it wasn’t just his performance on the field though that impressed Saturday.
“He does a lot of things nobody knows about,” Saturday said. “He’s very involved early in the week of giving advice or making mention of what needs to be changed running game wise. He’s always saying, ‘What about this?’ or ‘What can we change here to be better?’ I think that’s good for an offense like that.”
Coming from humble professional beginnings as an undrafted free agent out of North Carolina in 1999, Saturday has spoken on multiple occasions about his decorated career likely nearing its end.
Through it all, he’s maintained his grace and put over Dietrich-Smith’s qualities even when the 26-year-old leapfrogged him on the depth chart. The same goes for the rest of Saturday's linemates, all of whom are at least 11 years his junior.
Among them is Sitton, who could be in line to succeed Saturday as the unit’s graybeard after this season.
If that is the case, the 6-foot-3, 318-pound guard certainly has Saturday’s stamp of approval.
“I think Josh does a great job of bringing up what he sees as potential problems and he goes out and performs every week,” Saturday said. “The constancy of a good player is key – a guy who shows up each week and does his job and performs the way he’s supposed to no matter what the circumstance. I think that’s what Josh does and that’s why I have respect for him as a player.”
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