When you are talking about heroes for the Green Bay Packers there are quite a few names that come to mind. The obvious ones, like quarterback Aaron Rodgers, wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams, and most recently, rookie running back Aaron Jones. But there is one player, a player that many might not expect, but a player who has been given arguably the most important task on the Packers offense the past two games. Offensive lineman Lane Taylor has been the unsung hero for the Green Bay Packers.
Offensive Lineman Lane Taylor Has Been the Unsung Hero for the Green Bay Packers
If you were to jump into your DeLorean and go back in time, right before last season’s training camp, and you were to tell a Packers fan that Lane Taylor, a former undrafted free agent guard out of Oklahoma State, would be considered an unsung hero, you would probably be asked how many Spotted Cows you had drank.
At that time, Taylor was a backup guard, backing up All Pro guard Josh Sitton, the undisputed leader of the Packers offensive line. Many had speculated that Taylor might eventually replace Sitton who was entering his final season in his contract.
But when Packers general manager Ted Thompson surprisingly cut Sitton at the end of training camp, Taylor was thrusted into the starting lineup. Not only was Taylor being asked to start, but he was being asked to replace arguably the Packers best offensive lineman.
Although he didn’t play at the same level that Sitton had throughout his career, Taylor did hold his own and lived up to the new contract he signed prior to last season. Taylor performed well in the Packers running game and unexpectedly showed that he was more than cable in pass protection. Taylor received a lot of help in his first season as a starter from starting left tackle David Bakhtiari, who arguably had his best season as a professional. Fast forward to this season, it has been Taylor helping out Bakhtiari.
The Definition of a Team Player
If there is a position that has been hit the hardest by the injury bug for the Packers, it is the offensive tackle position. The Packers have lost both backup tackles Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy to injuries with both being placed on injured reserve. Even Don Barclay, who has seen time at offensive tackle during his Packers career, was put on the injured reserve.
Right offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga was lost to injury as well, although he returned last week in the Packers victory over the Dallas Cowboys. However, the biggest loss to the offensive tackle has been the hamstring injury to Bakhtiari, the player given the task of protecting Rodgers’ blindside.
Bakhtiari hasn’t played since the Packers defeated the Seattle Seahawks in week one. Murphy was first up in replacing Bakhtiari, but that only lasted a game with Murphy suffering a foot injury. Without any viable options, the Packers turned to Taylor.
Even though Taylor never played tackle, at high school, college, or during his young NFL career, Taylor accepted the challenge. Although Taylor won’t be compared to former NFL greats like Anthony Munoz, Jonathan Ogden, or Willie Roaf, he performed like he did when he was asked to replace Sitton, stepped in and did what was necessary to protect Rodgers and make sure the Packers offense kept on clicking.
Little Help from His Friends
Taylor should be commended for his play during the Packers victories over the Chicago Bears and Cowboys. But Taylor had help with his transformation to tackle from guard. Offensive line coach James Campen has had his work cut out for him. The unit he is in charge of has been pillaged by injuries, but he has kept it together and also helped Taylor learn the tackle position.
Yet, Campen isn’t the only person that helped Taylor with his transformation and his time at tackle. Tight end Martellus Bennett has been asked to help out in pass protection, instead of being used in the passing game. Bennett is one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL and has been given Taylor the necessary help in pass protection.
Taylor should be commended for stepping in and being a team player, but there is no doubt that the Packers need Bakhtiari to get back. When healthy, he is one of the best tackles in the NFL and it would allow Taylor to move back to guard, being an improvement over Lucas Patrick and Justin McCray who have played in Taylor’s place. The Packers have gotten by, but if they can get back to full strength at offensive line, the sky is the limit for their offense.