Over the next few weeks, we will break down each position on the Green Bay Packers' 2015 roster in detail, discussing each player and making our predictions for the final 53-man roster.
After examining the returning players and newcomers at the offensive guard and center positions, we are ready to go on the record with our predictions for the players who will enter the 2015 regular season on the 53-man roster. These predictions were made by the APC writing staff as a whole, with nine writers submitting their individual projections and being compiled into a single master ranking.
Another relatively simple projection heading into training camp with the interior of the line, with all 3 of last year's starters returning. The two veteran and Pro Bowl guards, Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, are back and make up one of the best guard tandems in the NFL. Joining them, after an impressive 2014 rookie season is Corey Linsley. After taking over for JC Tretter , who injured his knee and ended his year in a preseason game, Linsley started every game under center for the green and gold. We expect Tretter to make the team again, along with rookie Matt Rotherham out of Pittsburgh.
Starters: Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang, and Corey Linsley
Josh Sitton is coming off his 2nd Pro Bowl season last year, and his eigth year in the NFL. He has gradually become one of the best pass blocking guards in the league, and it is not going unnoticed. Sitton played the majority of 2014 with a torn ligament in his big left toe, but still managed to maintain his dominant presence on the Packers line. He's started every single game 5 out of his 7 seasons in the league, and that consistency has been critical in the passing and running game.
On the other side of the line is T.J Lang, coming off his first Pro Bowl selection in 2014. Lang is sometimes outshine by his fellow guard, but has steadily improved in recent seasons since being drafted in 2009 out of Eastern Michigan. While Sitton is praised for his outstanding pass blocking, Lang does the same for the running game, becoming the primary "puller" clearing the way for Eddie Lacy. He has become an enforcer on the line and only looks to get better as a mainstay in the trenches.
If there is any way to help a rookie center get acclimated to the NFL, having two of the best guards in the league on each side of you definitely does the trick. Corey Linsley had that in 2014 after taking over for the injured JC Tretter in the preseason, and went on the play exceptionally the rest of the season and into the playoffs. Linsey has received praise from his quarterback Aaron Rodgers, along with head coach Mike McCarthy on how he has responded after his first year in the NFL. He seems to have had himself an outstanding offseason, and we expect him to stay the starting anchor in the middle for the elite offensive line of the Packers.
Backups: JC Tretter and Matt Rotheram
JC Tretter enters his third season with the Packers after his first two were cut short by injury. In 2013 an ankle injury kept him out for the entire season, and then the knee injury in 2014 lost him his starting job at center. The fact that he was set to start under Rodgers, along with his versatility to play each position on the line makes him a lock for a backup spot on the roster. Matt Rotheram, whom the Packers signed as an UDFA, made 40 career starts at Pittsburgh and finished as a second team All-ACC player his senior season. He too has the ability to play multiple positions on the line, which gives him the upper hand on Lane Taylor, of whom the APC staff thinks he will beat out for that last roster spot on the offensive line.