Packers adding experienced depth in offensive tackle Dennis Kelly

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The Green Bay Packers signed veteran offensive tackle Dennis Kelly on Thursday, providing the offensive line with another veteran and adding depth at offensive tackle going into the 2021 season.

The team likes what Kelly can bring as an experienced player with a past history in Matt LaFleur’s offense.

“We lost Corey Linsley and Rick Wagner, a couple of guys that played a lot of snaps for us last year. And Dennis started 17 games last year for Tennessee. Familiar with Matt’s offense, Matt had him,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said. “I think at the tackle spot for us, gives us some depth. We have some young players that we’re really excited about. Overall, it strengthens what I thought was already a pretty strong group.”

Gutekunst said the move wasn’t made in response to the health of David Bakhtiari, who started training camp on the PUP list while recovering from an ACL injury.

The Packers wanted more experience at a premium position.

Kelly has played in 104 career games with 47 starts, including all 16 at right tackle for Tennessee last season. He was with LaFleur and the Titans during the 2018 season. The offense stayed mostly the same in Tennessee after LaFleur left, giving Kelly plenty of experience in the system as he arrives in Green Bay.

“Dennis, first of all, what a great person. He’s going to bring so much to our locker room,” LaFleur said. “Dennis shows up each and every day. He got the most time as a starter that he’s had in his career. He’s a massive man. It’s going to be a pretty seamless transition because when I left Tennessee they named Arthur Smith as the offensive coordinator, and a lot of the terminology stayed the same. I think it’ll expedite his learning curve and getting him going out there on the field.”

Kelly played over 1,000 snaps for the Titans last season and didn’t give up a sack, per Pro Football Focus. He also committed just two penalties. He could be the 2021 version of Wagner, who gave the Packers quality play over 610 snaps at right tackle after being signed in 2020.

With Kelly on board, the Packers can configure the offensive line in several different ways, a valuable asset especially with Bakhtiari’s status for the start of the season in doubt. If Bakhtiari isn’t ready, it’s possible Billy Turner could play left tackle with Kelly on the right side, allowing Elgton Jenkins to stay at left guard.

When everyone is healthy, Kelly, Bakhtiari, Turner and Jenkins are all capable of playing offensive tackle, giving the Packers four-deep depth on the edges.

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