Wisconsin native living a dream

It is not often that a football player from the Badger state receives an opportunity to make the Green Bay Packers' roster. Milton native Pete Traynor, who signed as a free agent this off-season, will be trying to beat the odds when training camp opens in late July. PackerReport.com's Matt Tevsh caught up with Traynor during the recent Organized Team Activities practices in Green Bay.

Stories like Pete Traynor are what make off-season camps and training camp fun to follow and watch.

While Al Harris and other veterans missing from OTA's in the past month received much of the attention, Traynor, a relatively inconspicuous free agent pickup, worked on his skills at guard and center without much fanfare. With training camp coming up next month, though, that could change.

If there is one player who fits head coach Mike McCarthy's mission of finding "Packer people" to build his roster, it is Traynor. He was born to be a Packer growing up in Milton, Wisconsin, a city in the southern part of the state with a population of just over 5,000.

"It means a lot," said Traynor. "Obviously I grew up watching the Packers and have always idolized them. This is the professional football team that if I ever had the chance was the team I wanted to be able to give it a shot with. So this is kind of a dream come true for me."

Traynor's blue-collar upbringing and Midwestern football background makes him feel welcome with the Packers, so quite understandably, he is adapting well.

"You just get a couple of miles outside of Green Bay and it reminds me a lot of home," he said. "It's nice, but at the same time it's much different than growing up on a dairy farm."

Traynor's life will change considerably if he can land a spot on the 53-man roster with the Packers or the practice squad following training camp. After playing college ball at the University of Iowa, he spent the last three seasons with the Quad Cities Steamwheelers of the Arena2 Football League.

The Packers personnel staff heard about Traynor with the Steamwheelers, and after reviewing film on him, they decided to bring him in this past January. After a workout and an examination by team doctors, Green Bay signed Traynor and decided to allocate him to NFL Europe, all in the span of several hours. In NFL-E this spring, he started at center for the Rhein Fire, who fell just one game short of the World Bowl Championship game.

Traynor returned to Green Bay in late May for the OTA practices and has been reunited with Joe Philbin, the current Packers offensive line coach and former Iowa assistant at the same position. The familiarity, along with Traynor's versatility, should give him a better than long-shot status to win an interior offensive line position.

"The more positions I can play, the better it will be for me," said Traynor. "There are so many calls for a center in this offense that I'm trying to catch on as quickly as I can, but I can play guard and still not know all the calls."

Traynor, 6-foot-3, 311 pounds, took snaps at both center and guard during the OTA's, but will probably be given a longer look at center during training camp. He has not really played guard since his senior year in college.

Both the center and guard positions are wide open for the Packers. Outside of center Scott Wells and rookie guards Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz, no one else is a lock to make the team. That gives Traynor much more opportunity and hope than if he were on a team with starters already in place.

The opportunity, his background, and his ability to fit in the Packers new zone blocking scheme are all in Traynor's favor. Now he has impress when given the chance. Just six years ago there was another offensive lineman with a Wisconsin background named Mark Tauscher who was not given much of a shot to make it, and he has turned out to be pretty good. Could Traynor be next? Keep an eye on him starting next month to see.

Matt Tevsh

Editor's note: Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com.

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