Green Bay Packers’ Josh Sitton earns teammates’, coaches’ notice : Packers Insider

Green Bay Packers’ Josh Sitton earns teammates’, coaches’ notice

November 21, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Nov 21, 2010 ~ by Kareem Copeland, Press-Gazette

~Coaches and teammates use the same adjective to describe Packers right guard Josh Sitton – sound.

Being dependable is great and all, but “sound” isn’t exactly a rave endorsement.

Leave it to quarterback Aaron Rodgers to take charge.

“Josh is a Pro Bowl caliber player,” Rodgers said. “I hope that he starts getting the type of respect he deserves. He’s a talented player. He may be our most underrated offensive lineman. But year-in, year-out, game-in and game-out he plays his butt off.

Who says White Men Can't Jump? In addition to blocking well, Sitton has shown the rare ability for an offensive lineman to get up and do the body-bump celebrations with Aaron Rodgers.

“I really think, if not this year, definitely in the future he has got to be a guy who’s going to go to many Pro Bowls.”

That’s heavy praise from a 2009 Pro Bowler considered one of the top quarterbacks in the league. Especially when it’s centered on a guy that is rarely mentioned in conversations.

Sitton has started 25 consecutive games for the Packers and was set to start as a rookie in 2008 before sustaining a preseason knee injury. The 6-foot-3, 318-pounder, however, has been virtually invisible for a man his size – a good thing for an offensive lineman.

“His name doesn’t come up an awful lot on Mondays,” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. “He’s playing very effectively. He’s very sound. He doesn’t make mental mistakes so you can always count on him doing the right things.”

Three years ago, Sitton didn’t even know if he could play in the NFL, let alone have his name brought up in a Pro Bowl conversation. Playing in the league was a goal, but he didn’t play football until seventh grade and wasn’t highly touted coming out of Central Florida. Sitton wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine and Sports Illustrated predicted he wouldn’t be drafted.

“In college it was always in the back of my mind, but I didn’t really know until my senior year, probably after,” Sitton said. “I didn’t have a clue if I was going to get drafted. I didn’t know if I was good enough to play.

“So, really, maybe even Pro Day is when I was like, all right, cool. I dominated pro day, maybe I’ll get a shot at this.”

Sitton has gotten more than just a shot.

At 318 pounds, Sitton is a bully in the run game. He plays with technique leverage and gains ground on his second step, not just on the snap of the ball. In the pass game, Sitton keeps a solid base and has a strong punch. And he’s smart enough to adjust to different defenses on the fly.

“It really started for him in the offseason,” offensive line coach James Campen said. “He really dedicated himself. He came in lighter. More lean muscle mass. He’s a big guy that dropped about eight pounds and kept his weight where it needs to be.
“He’s always been very bright. Doesn’t get fooled by a lot of looks. The offseason allowed him to accelerate his performance.”

“He eats a lot, that helps,” center Scott Wells said with a laugh. “He’s a mauler in the run game. He’s a big guy and knows how to use the weight and he understands leverage.

“That mixed in with how he’s developed in the pass game – really getting his footwork down and his hand with his punches, he’s developing into an all-around player.”

Part of Sitton’s and the line’s success this season comes, in part, from the fact the same quintet has started together since Week 5 against the Washington Redskins. The continuity has allowed Rodgers to stay upright as opponents have a combined four sacks in the last three games. Sitton’s experience helped Bryan Bulaga work through his first few NFL starts at right tackle until the rookie got up to speed.

“Whenever you get a rhythm with another guy,” Campen said, “he’s going to set this way on this type of look. Or he’s going to set that way. Or he’s going to double-team with me. Or combination block on a run play.

“Certainly, when you have more reps with the same person next to you, you know what his strengths are and what his deficiencies are. You get a good feel of communication, body language, feel on blocks.”

Sitton, who described himself as a hard-hat, lunch-pail type, is on the verge of the most critical stretch of his young career. He’s playing on a Super Bowl contender in a pass-first offense that depends on the line to give Rodgers time. Slowly, Pro Bowl aspirations are becoming a possibility and his rookie contract expires after the 2011 season. Sitton said he doesn’t think much about either, and there have been no contract extension talks as of yet, but both are important.

The last Packers offensive lineman to reach the Pro Bowl was tackle Chad Clifton in 2007. The last guard was Marco Rivera in 2004.

“I’d be lying if I said (the Pro Bowl) wasn’t (a goal),” Sitton said. “I’ve always been a big believer in team goals first and personal goals come with it. Obviously, with winning comes the individual accolades.

“I’d be lying if I said I haven’t ever thought about (the contract). Of course I have. … Those things, just like the Pro Bowls and accolades, worry about the team first and those things will come with it. We go win some games and make a playoff run and we’ll worry about that later.”

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