The Green Bay Packers didn't anticipate Letroy Guion being their starting nose tackle for this Thursday's regular-season opener against Seattle, but this scenario is also why they signed him back in March.
Although the sixth-year defensive lineman was expected to shadow B.J. Raji this season, Guion now assumes Raji's role in the heart of the run defense with the former first-round pick out for the season with torn right biceps.
Guion, who missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury, played nine snaps in Thursday's 34-14 win over Kansas City in what stands as his only work of the preseason.
The Packers likely will rotate second-year defensive lineman Josh Boyd and undrafted rookie Mike Pennel behind Guion at times, but both he and his coaches are confident in his ability to produce despite an abbreviated camp.
"I've been working very hard this week getting myself prepared for this game," said Guion, who's listed as the starter on the depth chart. "I'm going to go out there and play strong, and play hard for my team."
The Seahawks and running back Marshawn Lynch pose a big threat for the Packers' new-look defensive line that shed 330-pound veterans Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly this offseason.
To counteract the league's fourth-best rushing offense from a year ago, they'll count on Guion (6-4, 310), Mike Daniels (6-0, 305) and Datone Jones (6-4, 285) to hold their own despite not possessing as much mass as their predecessors.
The Packers were among the league's top run-stopping units for the first two months of last season, but Pickett and Jolly wore down in a late-season nose dive. In stressing athleticism, the Packers believe their new philosophy in the trenches will take.
"I think that maybe what we might not have in size, we gain in athletic ability," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "I think we'll be a more athletic defense than what we've been. I think when you look at the big picture, most of these offenses you're playing the more athletes you can put out there on the field, the better chance of making plays. When you're playing a game that's become a space game, and we'll have to do it a little more with quickness than we will with just girth in there inside. But I feel confident we can do that."