GREEN BAY – As they head into their second preseason game, Packers draft picks Jason Spriggs and Kyler Fackrell have both viewed their NFL debuts with a very critical eye.
Spriggs was solid and steady in his stint as the No. 2 left tackle last Friday vs. Cleveland, but he didn’t go into the film room to soak up all the praise for what he did right.
The second-round pick from Indiana learned long ago from his college offensive line coach, Greg Frey, that improving is about “attacking your weaknesses,” however small.
“He instilled that you always find the one bad thing you did on a play, even if you did great, so you can improve it and make it better,” Spriggs said. “There’s always something in every play you can do better.”
He’ll be out to fix those things on Thursday vs. Oakland as he continues to work toward earning the top backup job at both tackle spots on the Packers’ offensive line. That’s why the Packers traded up to select him with the 48th
overall pick, and he hasn’t disappointed.
He played only left tackle against the Browns but said he’s ready to flip over to the right side whenever it’s called for, which he’s done during practice.
A confident player with a textbook build for an offensive tackle, Spriggs wasn’t surprised he did well against Cleveland, not after all the reps – and occasional lessons – he’s absorbed in practice from Pro Bowl pass rushers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers.
“I think the game was a little bit slower than practice,” he said. “The talent and skill level they’re at and the expertise they have in their field, especially pass rush, it makes it a lot easier when you get to the games. There’s not a whole lot of moves that you’re going to see in the games that they haven’t got.”
Fackrell is also learning from the Packers’ star outside linebackers. He hasn’t asked Matthews or Peppers to teach him a specific pass-rush move, but they’ve given him advice and guidance as he’s gotten his feet wet in the NFL.
At 6-5, 245, Fackrell needs to add some size to become the player the Packers projected when they drafted him in the third round out of Utah State. He’ll be given the necessary time.
He didn’t get off to the strong start in camp that Spriggs did, and the one-on-one pass-rush drill against offensive linemen has been a frustrating environment at times, albeit a learning one. But he flashed his raw ability when he flew around the edge to sack Browns QB Cody Kessler near the goal line in the fourth quarter last week.
It was vintage Fackrell from his college film, but when he looked at his first NFL film, he saw “missed opportunities.” Known for his speed, Fackrell could see the offensive tackle soft-setting to catch him coming off the edge. That would leave more space between the tackle and guard, the area known as the “B” gap, but Fackrell didn’t capitalize with inside moves.
“When there’s a big ‘B’ gap sitting there, you should be willing to take those shots, just to keep them honest,” Fackrell said his coaches told him. “I don’t think I did that as well as I could have.”
It certainly wasn’t for a lack of aggression. On his sack, Fackrell was so determined to get to the QB that he didn’t slow down when he took a knee to the head that knocked off his helmet.
He was fine afterward, and he expects to play Thursday against the Raiders despite missing Monday’s practice due to illness. The sack might be a turning point in camp for Fackrell, but he needs to make it so.
“That’s obviously what you do it for, to be able to get something to work in a game and get a sack,” he said. “That was huge. That was exciting.
“You do take confidence form those wins, especially if it’s in a game. I’m just looking to build on that Thursday.”