Letroy Guion missed most of training camp but wound up starting all 16 games at nose tackle last season for the Green Bay Packers.
Now, fresh off a three-game suspension for his offseason arrest, Guion returned to the practice field on Wednesday.
“It feels great,” Guion said. “It feels great to get back out there with my teammates and start playing some football.”
Last year, the Packers couldn’t afford to wait around for Guion to knock off the rust stemming from an injured hamstring. That’s not the case this year. The Packers might rank near the bottom of the barrel against the run — 27th in yards per game and 32nd in yards per carry — but they’ve limited two of the best backs in the league, Marshawn Lynch and Jamaal Charles, to a combined 90 rushing yards the past two games.
Green Bay accomplished that behind excellent play from its defensive line. B.J. Raji, who Guion replaced at nose tackle last season, is back and off to a strong start. Mike Pennel has played well enough at defensive end that there’s no guarantee Guion will supplant him now or down the road.
“They did a good job of preparing and getting ready for those guys,” Guion said. “They did a good job with those guys. Up’s to them.”
Regardless of whether he's active for Sunday's game at San Francisco, Guion will be a key figure going forward. Not only was he a solid defender against the run but he added a surprising push as an interior rusher. His 3.5 sacks were a career high and his 10 quarterback hits (coaches’ count) ranked fourth on the team. That versatility will make him an asset regardless of whether Green Bay lines up in its base or nickel packages.
“I know I can play football,” Guion said. “Every year is different. Just go out there and be myself and play some good football.”
Throughout the ordeal, the Packers have had Guion’s back. They re-signed him in free agency and are welcoming him back with open arms.
“It’s going to be great to have Letroy back to give us another body to rotate, more solid against the run,” linebacker Julius Peppers said. “We’ve been pretty solid, but he’s going to help us get better, so we’re definitely looking forward to getting him back out there.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.