NFL: Packers' Jason Spriggs worried about playoffs, not Green Bay winter

AP photo/Green Bay Press-GazetteGreen Bay's Jason Spriggs (78) takes a break during NFL rookie camp at the Hutson Center in Green Bay, Wis., last May.

Jason Spriggs isn't letting the cold of a Green Bay winter get to him.

Or playing two different positions along the offensive line in the NFL.

Nor the job of protecting future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers.

The former Concord High and Indiana University star is more concerned about making an impact in this, his rookie season and helping the Packers reach the NFL playoffs.

Spriggs, listed at 6-foot-6, 301 pounds, was a second-round pick of the Packers in the spring after finishing as an All-American his senior year at Indiana. He was chosen No. 48 in the draft, ironically with a pick obtained in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts, who have struggled blocking for quarterback Andrew Luck the past two seasons.

While listed as a backup tackle for much of the year, Spriggs has moved inside and started two games at guard in place of an injured T.J. Lang.

Green Bay, which had lost four straight to drop to 4-6, won both of Spriggs starts and then crushed Seattle on Sunday to improve to 7-6, with Spriggs returning to a backup role. He has played in all 13 games for the Packers this season.

"We had some injuries, but everyone has injuries,'' Spriggs said this past week by phone. "But now you're starting to see us executing much better and the offense is really playing well and we're starting to play how we knew we should. Our last three games are against division opponents, so we have a chance to go head-to-head against teams we need to beat.''

That stretch starts on Sunday when the Packers travel to Soldier Field to face the Bears (3-10). That's followed by a home game against Minnesota (7-6), before the season finale at division-leading Detroit (9-4).

According to Spriggs, his move back inside to guard (he played both positions at Indiana) wasn't a huge change.

"The biggest thing about playing guard is the style of play,'' Spriggs said. "The defensive tackle is on you right away and battling you, so you have to really be quick. It's much less about being patient and waiting for the defender to make a move to try and get around you.''

As he's gone through the season, Spriggs said the help of Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion Rodgers has been important in his learning curve.

"When I've wanted to go to someone other than the coaching staff with questions, Aaron has always made himself available,'' Spriggs said. "He obviously has a great understanding of the game, not just the quarterback position. He can tell you about every position on the field.''

The famous Green Bay winter has already hit, as the Packers have played in snow the last two weeks in wins over Houston and Seattle. Although he's played in colder weather in his career in Indiana, the snow and frozen field have added an element he wasn't used to.

"I've played in cold temperatures all my life, but the snow does make it tougher,'' said Spriggs – who played in short sleeves. "It takes awhile to get your footwork down with the slick grass, but once you get used to it, things aren't too bad really. You get used to the cold eventually.''

According to Spriggs, one of the biggest differences between college and the pro game is the number of great athletes he sees on a weekly basis.

"When you prepare for a college game, you know there are one or two players that you'll have to contend with all day and that you know will be in the NFL someday,'' Spriggs said. "But here, the talent pool is just so deep, we see all those great players I competed against, plus the best players from colleges all over the country.''

An Outland Trophy semifinalist his senior year at Indiana, Spriggs admits he was surprised when the university fired head coach Kevin Wilson. Athletic director Fred Glass said the reason was philosophical differences between Wilson and IU, although their have been allegations by others of Wilson mistreating injured players.

"I've heard all the rumors of course, but I can honestly say I never had any of those experiences with Coach Wilson,'' Spriggs said. "He would get on you, of course, like most coaches, but he never tried to force me to play with an injury or put a hand on me. I know there are a lot of questions around the program, but to me, he was always just my head coach.''

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