Buddies Battle: China to Guard

Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz have been good friends ever since they were roommates during their first training camp in Green Bay. That friendship took them to China, and it will take them into a key training camp battle. Learn more in this magazine excerpt.

Publisher's note: This story is an abridged version of one of the main pieces in the Packer Report Magazine training camp preview edition that we're putting together. Along with looks at all of the training camp battles, we are adding some new features and the design staff has been busy redesigning how the magazine looks. For information on subscribing to Packer Report, click here.

Green Bay Packers offensive linemen Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz have done just about everything together over the past four football seasons, including but certainly not limited to rooming during training camp, doing work in the community, blocking defensive linemen and even hosting a weekly local television show.

So, it would be perfectly understandable if the two would want some time away from each other in the offseason. Maybe just a little break apart until the daily rigors of training camp and the monotony of the regular season set in.

Or maybe not.

Joined at the hip since coming into the league as rookies in 2006, Colledge and Spitz are as inseparable off the field as on it — so much so that they even went as far as halfway around the world together in February.

"He's just not a huge traveler," said Colledge of Spitz, "but this (past) season, when he got injured, he had a lot of time to sit around, and he said, ‘Let's go on a trip this year.' And I think he just wanted to go as far away as he could. So, that was China. He knocked out the longest trip possible."

Nearly 30 hours of flying time and 10 days of sightseeing, much of it on foot, can be exhausting, especially for two guys who stand about 6-foot-4 and weight more than 300 pounds.

"It's always intrigued me a little bit to go over there and experience the culture," said Spitz, who had taken trips domestically with Colledge but never overseas. "I think it was worth going, especially because we are young and don't have kids. It was kind of a grueling trip, though. We packed a lot into those few days."

The trip was a memorable one, and the grueling part of it should make this training camp feel like a breeze for the veteran duo. Both come into camp arguably in the best condition of their careers, and although no two players on the roster are closer in friendship, challenges exist that could test their buddy relationship like never before.

Headed into training camp, the Packers would appear to have four starting positions pretty well set — Chad Clifton at left tackle, Mark Tauscher at right tackle, Scott Wells at center and Josh Sitton at right guard. That leaves just the left guard spot open if everyone stays healthy.

"It's part of the job and it's part of the business," Colledge said of battling his buddy. "It's obviously not what you want. I think we'd both like to be solidified players, but you do what you do and you go to work. I think we're both taking it that way."

Echoed Spitz: "You're here to compete for a job. We'll still be good friends, but when you're on the field, that good friend stuff is on the side."

Colledge, a native of Alaska, and Spitz, who went to high school in Florida, met each other at the 2006 NFL Combine. But they never could have known that they would become teammates in Green Bay only months later. Colledge, out of Boise State, was picked in the second round, and Spitz, out of Louisville, was selected in the third.

Based on their positions on the field and their selection in the draft, it became natural to make them roommates during training camp. And so began their relationship.

"It's really just clicked ever since," Colledge said. "His girlfriend and my wife are friends. The friendship has built and hopefully it will last a long time."

At the least, it has taken them long distances — like to China — where they proved to be perfect travel partners, too.

"When you got another big guy with you," explained Colledge, "you kind of tire out at the same time, you get hungry at the same time, so that's a little easier than maybe dragging around your wife or something who can go all day and not stop for food."

And though they did everything together over the course of the trip, they did find some time to take a break from each other. They had separate hotel rooms.

"We made it as easy as possible," said Colledge. "We hung out. We partied and had a great time and saw a bunch of amazing things. It was a great trip."

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Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com

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