Packers tackle Jason Spriggs baffled by benching at start of first exhibition
GREEN BAY – Green Bay Packers tackle Jason Spriggs said he was caught off-guard when on the day of the Tennessee Titans exhibition game Thursday he was told he would not be starting at right tackle.
Spriggs had been in that spot the entire camp with veteran Bryan Bulaga coming back from knee surgery. But something changed in the coaches’ eyes in a very short period, and veteran Byron Bell started at right tackle against the Titans.
“No idea,” Spriggs said Sunday when asked about why the change was made. “I’m going to let the coaches handle anything they want to say about that.”
Spriggs said the benching was not for disciplinary reasons and that he would continue to work as he had to land a backup job behind Bulaga and left tackle David Bakhtiari.
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He said there wasn’t much he could do about the demotion.
“(I was) going with the (No.) 1s the whole time, but it was coach’s decision,” Spriggs said. “I’m not going to get into an argument about it with the coach over his decision of who plays.”
Coach Mike McCarthy acknowledged that the decision was made late in the week, but he would not say why the sudden change was made other than it was “a coach’s decision.”
Spriggs is coming off a dislocated left knee cap suffered against the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 23 and wears a bulky brace when he practices and plays. The brace hasn’t affected his play, he said, but the 20 pounds he put on during the offseason to help his run-blocking has taken some time to get used to.
Coming into the draft, Spriggs was one of the most athletic offensive linemen at the combine, but he has looked sluggish with the extra weight.
“When you think about it, it’s not even getting used to running around with the weight,” he said. “When you shift positions and you switch laterally going that way, it’s how the weight transfers and getting used to that kind of stuff. It’s a little bit different, but I’m starting to get the hang of it a lot more now than I was earlier in camp.”
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The coaches have kept Spriggs on the right side and fellow third-year pro Kyle Murphy on the left side. Murphy has been the starter at left tackle with Bakhtiari nursing an ankle injury, but Bakhtiari returned to practice Sunday and will be eased back into his starting spot.
Neither Murphy nor Bell was flawless against the Titans and so Spriggs can still get back in the race for a top backup position. But apparently, he’s got a lot farther to go than he thought.
“I’m just going to keep plugging away like I have been, try to be the best tackle that I can be,” he said.