Preseason proving ground for Packers offensive line

Green Bay Packers center Josh Myers (71), offensive guard Royce Newman (70) and offensive guard...
Green Bay Packers center Josh Myers (71), offensive guard Royce Newman (70) and offensive guard Jon Runyan (76) walk on the field during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)(Kamil Krzaczynski | AP)
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 6:53 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - While many key veterans and starters will watch the first preseason game from the sidelines, the Packers ‘starting’ offensive line will not.

Head coach Matt LaFleur saying on Wednesday the group that has been taking the number one reps in practice will play against San Francisco. That’s especially important as the Packers look for the best five to start week one with stars Elgton Jenkins and David Bakhtiari working their way back.

Many of the names in the offensive line remain the same, there are some differences. Big name veterans like Billy Turner and Lucas Patrick are now gone. Luke Butkus moved into the offensive line coach role after serving as an assistant under now offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich.

“It’s easy to point to David and Elgton who have been so instramental in our success here, and are great players. And we’ve got a lot of young guys. We still feel good about the group. There’s still a lot of growth in front of them,” said head coach Matt Lafleur.

“Last year we had guys that were seven years plus. It’s a different overall vibe in the room, but it’s making everybody step up,” said Jake Hansen.

Jake Hansen was drafted as a center in 2020, but now finds himself taking snaps with the first unit as a guard with Royce Newman moving over to right tackle at the start of camp. Switching positions and stepping into big roles were part of the norm for the Packers last year, and it’s nothing new in camp now.

“It’s very rare. I mean, I couldn’t even tell you an instance of where the starting offensive line week one is the same the entire season, all the way to week 17 or 18. It’s something that’s necessary in this game. So, you’ve got to be ready for it,” said Hansen.

Local product Cole Van Lanen is stepping up in his second training camp as well. The Bay Port grad was listed as the second string left tackle on the first depth chart heading into the 49ers game.

“I just think physicality and confidence. I know the playbook better. I had a lot of competition through last year and this year against some really, really good football players. I think that’s just helped me boost my game,” said Cole Van Lanen.

For Van Lanen, and the rest of the offensive line, the next chance to prove themselves comes Friday in San Francisco.

“I feel like every rep I have in practice, or rep I have in a game, is a huge opportunity. Especially at this level, and I just really need to maximize it. It doesn’t matter what position, or what not, I’ve just got to maximize my opportunity,” said Van Lanen.

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