GREEN BAY – Jason Spriggs’ second pro season has not gone according to plan.
Working to become the backup swing offensive tackle, Spriggs had some rough moments in the preseason and then badly injured his hamstring in Week 1 against Seattle on special teams.
He landed on injured reserve, returned to the roster after missing eight games, and then after only a few practices was thrown back in against Baltimore to play right tackle for Justin McCray – and take a few snaps against none other than Terrell Suggs.
Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said last week that Spriggs had a much better week of practice, and it showed in his first NFL start on Sunday night in Pittsburgh, where the 2016 second-round pick out of Indiana opened at right tackle instead of McCray.
Here’s a handful of plays to show some of the work Spriggs did against a variety of Steelers defenders.
Play No. 1: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 17, second quarter, 7:14 left
Result: Incomplete pass to RB Jamaal Williams
Against Steelers DE Stephon Tuitt (91), Spriggs gets driven back initially, but he recovers from the momentary stagger and stands tall against Tuitt, allowing QB Brett Hundley to slip out and fire deep down the sideline to Williams. Unfortunately, the pass is just out of reach.
Play No. 2: Third-and-6 from the Green Bay 21, second quarter, 6:27 left
Result: 6-yard scramble by Hundley
Two plays later, Spriggs handles an outside speed rush from LB Bud Dupree (48) and stays with him nicely as Hundley steps up and scrambles to the first-down marker.
Play No. 3: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 24, third quarter, 14:56 left
Result: 9-yard run by Williams
Here Tuitt crashes to the middle from his end position, but Spriggs doesn’t let him plug it up, clearing the way for LG Lane Taylor (65) to pull and get his block to spring Williams for a nice gain to open the second half.
Play No. 4: Third-and-1 from the Green Bay 33, third quarter, 13:41 left
Result: 5-yard run by Williams
Two plays later it’s third-and-short, and Spriggs gets good leverage on DE Cameron Heyward (97), as extra lineman Ulrick John (74) and TE Lance Kendricks (84) help cave in the entire left side of Pittsburgh’s front for Williams to slip through easily for the first down.
Play No. 5: Third-and-3 from the Green Bay 45, third quarter, 12:17 left
Result: 55-yard TD pass to Davante Adams
Three snaps later and it’s third down again, and Spriggs’ pass set against Dupree is textbook. He doesn’t allow the edge rusher to disrupt Hundley’s footwork at all as the QB fires deep to Adams. Just in case you didn’t see it on the TV broadcast, be sure to check out the stutter-step by Adams to get open for Green Bay’s biggest play of the game.
Play No. 6: First-and-goal from the Pittsburgh 4, fourth quarter, 2:08 left
Result: 4-yard TD run by Williams
Similar to a run play earlier, Spriggs’ man – in this case, Dupree – is crashing from the outside in to try to disrupt the run. Spriggs simply helps ride him all the way out of the play, and the draw handoff to Williams works perfectly behind the blocks of RG Jahri Evans (73), Taylor and TE Richard Rodgers (82).