GREEN BAY, Wis. — After 13 seasons with the same franchise — 12 of those snapping to the same quarterback — C Jeff Saturday is in a new home, and acclimating well to Green Bay.
“He fits in like a gently worn baseball glove,” said GM Ted Thompson.
Saturday laughed when told the metaphor.
“That’s pretty good. I am probably worked in pretty good. I’ve been oiled a few times,” he said after Wednesday’s practice.
The Packers lost Scott Wells in free agency to the Rams. Wells, who played in 111 games with 100 starts in his eight seasons in Green Bay, started every game each of the last two seasons. Offensive line coach James Campen described what the team was looking for this offseason in a new starting center.
“We wanted someone that would fit our system and our scheme,” Campen said. “We are an up-tempo team, we do some things at the line. Certainly we were looking for a guy who’s smart, can fit right in and fill that spot.”
Saturday, a five-time Pro Bowler, matched those qualities and is adjusting well as he gets ready to suit up in a Packers uniform for his first game, when Green Bay opens its preseason schedule Thursday night in San Diego.
“He’s done well. He’s picking up things every day,” said Campen. “As he gets more familiar with our terminology, things will be better for him, but so far he’s done a good job.”
The two-time All-Pro is in a situation where he is not only learning from his new teammates, but teaching them a thing or two as well.
“He’s had to come in and learn a new system, which we’ve helped out a lot with, being the two guys next to him,” said ORG Josh Sitton, while sitting across from OLG T.J. Lang. “(Saturday) has taught us a lot of things already in his short time here. Playing for 14 years, he has a lot of tricks up his sleeve.”
“These guys have been in this offense for a number of years now. It helps for me to ask them questions on why the look is what it is and the thought process behind it,” Saturday said. “It helps me to be able to pick up on the little intricacies of the offense.
“From the other standpoint, I’ve been doing this a long time. You learn a lot of the tricks of the trade as you go on and different techniques. It’s a good conversation.”
Those “tricks of the trade” could be teaching the younger O-linemen something seen in the film room. “He’s pointed out some things (on film) and tips to look for with defensive linemen,” said Campen.
The other “tricks” we might not be able to notice.
“He does a certain little thing on a couple plays. I don’t want to give his secret away, but I hadn’t seen it before and I like it,” said Sitton.
For Saturday, the offseason in Green Bay has been a very different one than he has been accustomed to. He may have the most experience on the line, but not with the offense, and he enjoys taking more of a role in a learning capacity.
“I’ve appreciated it. I told Campen to coach me like I’ve never played before. He’s done a good job telling me how they do things here, what the expectations at this position and this offensive line are,” said Saturday. “For an old guy like myself, it revitalizes you a little bit. It gets you a little bit more excited to come to work because you’ve got to work harder to know what you’re doing.”