While Jason Spriggs has flashed starter potential, the second of the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line draft picks this year has faced some early hurdles.
Kyle Murphy, the team’s sixth-round draft pick, missed most of the Packers’ offseason program while wrapping up classes at Stanford. Then, he sustained a concussion, which would have kept him out of the Hall of Fame Game and did keep him out of last week’s preseason game against Cleveland.
Murphy returned to practice this past week and played 36 snaps as the right tackle with the second unit vs. Oakland.
“I felt good,” Murphy said after the game. “Obviously, with it being my first game and coming off that concussion and missing so much time and really only having one real practice under my belt a few days ago, with everything considering all of the things, I was pretty nervous. I got threw in there in the second quarter and they still had their ones out there – Bruce Irvin, Khalil Mack, everybody knows who those guys are. I felt like I held my own and performed well. I obviously have a ton I need to work but, considering all the factors, I think I played pretty well.”
Having had a chance to review the film, coach Mike McCarthy was impressed by the rookie’s debut.
“He did some good things,” McCarthy said. “Obviously not practicing for a couple of weeks, conditioning was going to be a challenge — we knew that going into the game — but I thought he battled through and did some good things.”
Being on the sideline was a rarity for Murphy, who thought he might have missed five practices during his four years at Stanford. Moreover, a concussion is a different sort of injury. As he pointed out, it’s not like an injured ankle, in which a player can return to action at 80 percent strength and a good tape job.
Because of the lost time, going against Mack and Irvin was a trial by fire. But it was a trial he was happy to get, as the Raiders played their starters for the entire first half.
“When you go against the best of the best, you’ve got to be at your best,” Murphy said. “Any technical flaws or fundamental flaws, you’re going to get exposed, you’re going to get beat. We’re super-lucky here as offensive tackles that we get to go against Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers – the list goes on and on. Those are the poster boys but the depth at outside linebacker and pass rushers, in general, is ridiculous. In that sense, I felt really prepared, even though I had limited reps this week. Everyone has their blueprint, everyone’s a bit different, but going against top-notch players in practice makes that a little bit easier. It’s not easy but it makes it so you’re like, ‘I’ve done this before.’ We don’t go against any chumps here.”
Murphy is in the heat of one of the hottest roster battles in camp. The starting five, Spriggs and J.C. Tretter are the locks. That leaves guard Lane Taylor, guard/tackle Josh Walker, five-position veteran Don Barclay and Murphy fighting for probably no less than two spots.
“My big thing is keep my eyes to the windshield and not look in the rear-view mirror or look too far ahead,” he said. “Just staying in the here and now. What happened, happened, so I’m trying to play catch-up and do the best I can do and make sure everything in my life revolves around football and becoming the best player I can be.”
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.