GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers right tackle Jason Spriggs ran the 40-yard dash faster than any offensive lineman at the 2016 college scouting combine.
After putting on close to 20 pounds over the course of the last seven months, the 4.94 seconds he ran in Indianapolis is a pipe dream.
“Luckily, I don’t have to run the 40 ever again,” Spriggs said with a laugh.
Spriggs was a rare specimen in the NFL; he was so fit that he didn’t have a gut on him. At 6 foot, 6 inches, 301 pounds he looked more like a power forward than a tackle. He had the potential to grow into a left tackle’s body, but the Packers need him competing for time at right tackle and so that’s where he has played during OTAs and the first day of mandatory minicamp Tuesday.
When he did play over the past three seasons, he was usually plugged in at right tackle for injured Bryan Bulaga. To play that position, a lineman must be able to drive a 290-pound end off his spot.
At 301 pounds, Spriggs had trouble doing it.
After dislocating his knee cap against Minnesota in his fifth start of the season, Spriggs used his time on injured reserve to start the process of building up his body. His priority was rehabbing his knee, but during the offseason nutritionist Adam Korzun drew up a plan for him to put on weight.
It required persistence.
Spriggs would wake up before the sun came up and eat a meal, then go back to sleep, wake up and eat breakfast. There would be mid-morning, mid-day and evening snacks to go with his regular three meals. When he was at work, he was in the weight room, training room and classroom, trying to get his career on track.
“You can see in his body he’s made strong gains in his size and strength,” offensive line coach James Campen said. “He’s a kid going into his third year and wants to make sure he’s going to give everything he has. He’s in a lot better physical shape and mindset than he’s been the last two years.”
The medical staff cleared Spriggs for practice last week and Campen put him back at right tackle, although he will train as a backup to left tackle David Bakhtiari in training camp. Spriggs said other than tiring a little sooner, he didn’t have any trouble handling the extra weight.
When training camp starts, Spriggs should be competing with Bulaga, who is still recovering from a torn ACL, and second-year tackle Kyle Murphy for the starting right tackle job. Based on his performance his first two years, he isn’t a lock for any position.
His added bulk withstanding, Spriggs has a lot of growing to do to become a reliable pass and run blocker. He recognizes the opportunity, but doesn’t spend much time dwelling on it.
“I’m not thinking about it just because I don’t want to put extra pressure on myself,” Spriggs said of becoming the starter. “I know what I have to do. I know what’s at stake. I need to be the best right tackle I can be.”