When he returns to his old stomping grounds at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday, Jeff Saturday joked that he might need directions when he gets off the bus.
“The funny thing is, I don’t even know where the visiting locker room is,” Saturday said.
His new teammates can certainly lead the way, but that won’t change how strange it will be for Saturday to walk onto the field in Indianapolis wearing an enemy uniform. A five-time Pro Bowl center, Saturday played 13 seasons for the Colts before signing with the Packers as a free agent in March.
Green Bay couldn’t be happier with how the transaction has worked out so far, particularly with Saturday’s experience in a no-huddle, up-tempo offense, which he ran with Peyton Manning as his quarterback for more than a decade.
On Wednesday, Mike McCarthy referred to Saturday as a consistent, steady veteran “that has a lot of pelts on the wall,” and quarterback Aaron Rodgers complimented him on his leadership within the offensive line group.
Saturday said he feels his transition to Green Bay’s offensive system is still ongoing, but he’s getting more comfortable by the week, regardless of how uncomfortable it may be at first to walk out of the “other” tunnel at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. He said he has secured roughly 70 tickets for family and friends to be part of his personal homecoming.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you it wasn’t awkward,” Saturday said. “You play 13 years in one place, and to go back and play against them now is definitely different.
“I’m sure that’ll be tough, but you have to put it aside, though. You have to take it for the job that it is.”
That approach is what impressed Saturday the most last week about his new team, which he feels turned a corner of sorts by bouncing back from the injustice in Seattle with a hard-fought one-point win over New Orleans.
“I felt like last week you really saw the team being forged a little bit,” Saturday said. “There are moments in a season where you capture internally really what your team is about. I thought we fought back from a lot of adversity, even from the distractions from the week before, and guys really laid it on the line.
“You like to see your team advancing every week, and I felt like we made a step last week, and it’s exciting to be around it.”
There’s a different type of excitement in Indianapolis, as the Colts are a changed team from the one Saturday left, with a new coaching staff, a new general manager and most notably, a new quarterback in rookie No. 1 pick Andrew Luck.
Several Packers commented on how impressed they are with Luck in viewing the film of his first three NFL games. With the way AFC-NFC matchups rotate on the schedule, after Sunday the Packers won’t see Luck again until his fifth season, which McCarthy suggested might be just as well.
Game-planning against him this week has reminded McCarthy of his days as an offensive assistant in Kansas City when AFC West rival Oakland drafted cornerback Charles Woodson in the first round.
“We were talking about game-planning,” McCarthy said of the Chiefs staff, “and it was like, ‘Hey, we’d better go after this guy, because next year we’re probably not going to want anything to do with him.’
“I think that’s a little bit like some of these young quarterbacks. I think he’s going to be a very good player for a long time.” Additional coverage - Oct. 3