The Green Bay Packers offensive line has been one of the best this season in the NFL. That unit is one of the biggest reasons that the Packers have been so successful on offense. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers should be this year’s NFL MVP. But the chances of him earning that would have been a lot less if his offensive line wasn’t as good as they have been. Starting left tackle David Bakhtiari, and starting left guard Elgton Jenkins have received most of the headlines from that group. Still, there are other members, who deserve to be commended. One of those players is starting right guard Lucas Patrick. Patrick has played in 16 games, starting 15 of them, this season. He has faced a lot of tests throughout his young career. But on Saturday, Lucas Patrick might facest his most difficult test yet.
Lucas Patrick to Face Biggest Professional Test on Saturday
Lucas Patrick has faced a lot of obstacles, which we will discuss, throughout his career. Still, what lies ahead of him on Saturday, usurps any of those obstacles.
The Packers will host the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday at Lambeau Field in the second round of the NFC Playoffs. The same Rams that have the best interior defensive lineman in the NFL. That player is Aaron Donald. It appears that the person who will be assigned to slowing down Donald will be Patrick. The task will be daunting, but Patrick has faced daunting tasks throughout his career.
Fighting for Everything He has Gotten
Lucas Patrick has come a long way to earning the right to block the best interior defensive lineman in a playoff game. Patrick is part of the long list of Packers that were signed as an undrafted free agent. But Patrick wasn’t just your run of the mill undrafted free agents.
In 2016, Patrick was signed after receiving a tryout from the Packers. While most undrafted free agents don’t have to go through a tryout, the Duke University product did. His tryout was a success and earned him a contract for training camp. Unfortunately, he was cut in training camp. The Packers did re-sign him to their practice squad which stayed on there throughout the season.
In 2017, he earned a spot on the Packers roster. That season, he started two games for the Packers and played in a total of 12 of them. The following season, he started four games for the Packers, playing in a total of 14 games. In 2019, he didn’t start a game, but he did play in 14 games. He created a spot on the Packers roster, with his ability to play guard as well as center. His ability to fill in at both center and guard earned him a new two-year contract extension that season. The former undrafted free agent from a basketball school who had to succeed at a tryout finally had made it. But it looks like the Packers might have gotten a steal with that contract with how he has played this season.
Ups and Downs
Lucas Patrick has shown his value and his worth this season. Veteran Lane Taylor was expected to be the starting right guard this season. But when he went down with a season-ending knee injury in the season opener, it was Patrick that stepped in. It has been a theme for the Packers offensive line this season. A player goes down, another player steps up, and the Packers offense hasn’t skipped a beat. Patrick, along with Jenkins and Billy Turner, have the ability to play multiple positions. That has been a lifesaver for the Packers offensive line this season.
While Patrick has stepped up, he still has had some rocky moments. There have been several games he has struggled, like against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 6. Patrick struggled against veteran Ndamkukong Suh that game. While Suh isn’t the player he once was, he still has some burst but he is also as strong as he has ever has been. That combination caused fits for Patrick. Facing Aaron Donald will be similar, although about ten times more difficult.
Asking Patrick to take Donald one on one most of the game would be a death sentence. Patrick has made himself into a starting NFL caliber player, but he isn’t in Donald’s category. Patrick will need to be helped out. Some of it will come from center Corey Linsley.
Will Need Some Help From His Friends
Linsley was named All-Pro for the first time in his career this season. He has played exceptional all season and it was a no brainer for him to be named All-Pro. His ability will be needed on Saturday against Donald. It is expected that Donald will line up primarily over Patrick, in lieu of Jenkins. If the Packers had it their way, they would rather see Donald line up over Jenkins for most of the game. But don’t expect that to happen.
A one on one matchup between Donald and Patrick is a massive mismatch for the Packers. But a Donald versus the combination of Linsley and Patrick would give the Packers a much better chance to succeed on offense. Expect a lot of double team help from Linsley on Saturday. Also, you could see some help from h-back Dominique Daffney. Head coach Matt LaFleur could lineup Dafney a lot at fullback on Saturday, using him to help clear the way on Patrick’s side.
LaFleur and offensive line coach Adam Stenavich will make sure that Patrick has help on Saturday. However, there will be a time that Patrick will go one on one with Donald. When that time comes, Patrick will need to make sure he is up for the challenge. A very difficult challenge it will be.
Patrick will be the Man
This week, general manager Brian Gutekunst made a very astute roster move. He signed former Packers offensive tackle Jared Veldheer. Veldheer just played for the Indianapolis Colts last week in the Colts playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills. Since he was promoted from the Colts practice squad for that game, he was eligible to be signed by another playoff team. Gutekunst quickly gobbled him up.
After the signing, speculation began that he might be inserted at tackle for the game on Saturday. In that scenario, that would have allowed the Packers to move Billy Turner from left tackle to right guard. The belief was that the Packers would be better off with Turner at right guard instead of Patrick. But that speculation was quickly squashed when it was announced that Veldheer had been placed on the COVID reserve list.
The starting right guard position is now in the hands of Lucas Patrick. Once again, he will need to show he is up for the challenge.
Embed from Getty Images