No one on the Green Bay Packers’ roster better exemplifies Mike McCarthy’s mantra of availability and accountability than offensive lineman Daryn Colledge.
The fifth-year guard out of Boise State has yet to miss a game in his pro career and is tied with A.J. Hawk for the most consecutive games played of anyone on the Packers. That was news to Colledge, who on Wednesday found a bit of humor in the notion that he is the team’s resident “ironman” because of his streak.
“Am I?” he asked, then let out a hearty chuckle. “I don’t know. I’ve been nicked and bruised. It’s a matter of taking care of yourself on and off the field.”
While Colledge has been a whipping boy at times throughout his career through position changes and penalties, his durability has never been in question. Of the 74 straight games he has played in since being drafted by the Packers in 2006, 70 have been starts. He is the only offensive lineman for the Packers to start the last 43 games.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Colledge is having arguably his best season after settling down at left guard. Throughout his career he has moved around, playing right guard, left tackle and even a game at right tackle in a pinch, which has produced uneven results.
This training camp, Colledge worked almost exclusively at left guard, his most natural position. Challenged to retain that spot by first-round draft pick Bryan Bulaga, Colledge succeeded and has not looked back since.
The height of his success and his offensive line-mates might have come last week at Minnesota. Returning to face a defensive line in an environment in which they yielded eight sacks, a penalty and a safety a season ago, it gave up only three sacks and committed no penalties and played nearly flawless over the last three quarters of a 31-3 victory.
For its efforts, the Packers’ offensive line was recognized by Hall of Fame coach and former broadcaster John Madden as being the “top protectors” in Week 11, making the unit contenders for the “Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award” at the end of the season. Said Madden in a press release, “The Green Bay offensive line has settled into a good groove and is playing as well as they have all season.”
Colledge is part of an interior offensive line that has allowed, by unofficial count, just two sacks this season. Colledge has just one holding penalty and has not committed a penalty of any kind over the last three games.
Still, he is not necessarily ready to call this his best season.
“I don’t know. That’s a hard claim for me to make,” he said. “I feel like the offensive line is doing well, and we have production now, and if I’m playing good football, that gives us an opportunity to do that. So, I feel like I’m just a part of it right now. I got a couple of things I’d like to improve on in the last stretch of the season and hopefully through the playoffs.”
Three games ago, Colledge hurt his back against the Jets, an injury that went under the radar until practice the following week, when his name popped up on the injury list midweek. When his back flared up, he even missed some practice time, something he despises.
“I don’t want it to be that way,” he said. “I don’t want that time off in practice because I find that I don’t play as well if I’m not out there getting reps. I’m more comfortable if I’ve had the reps during the week than if I’m getting rest. So, for me, it’s stay healthy, keep playing.”
Colledge did keep playing. He suited up only days later against the Cowboys in a 45-7 victory.
“It’s something you have to take pride in,” said Colledge of being available every week. “You just show up and go to work. Hopefully, I can continue that. I’d like to continue to be a guy who the Packers say, ‘Hey, we’re good at left guard. We’ve got something else to worry about. Let’s do that. But we know left guard’s going to be there and he’s going to perform.’”
So, what are his keys to fighting through the aches and pains and getting himself ready to play each week?
“I see a chiropractor, I get a massage, I see the trainers when I need it, and I stay on top of it,” he said. “And then I think a huge part of it is luck. You’ve got to play 16 games and you’ve got to stay healthy if you want to be a part of this football team.”
Colledge is certainly that -- every game.
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Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org