Offensive lineman Greg Van Roten took the road less traveled to the NFL
The Packers’ roster is filled with stars, but there are just as many little-known backups whose dreams are a lot bigger than their current roles. I’ll be focusing on those players in this new weekly feature.
How did he get to Green Bay? Van Roten’s journey to the Packers was unique. After a stellar career as an offensive tackle at Penn (that’s Penn and not Penn State), he was ignored both during and after last year’s draft. After being told thanks but no thanks by both the Jets and the Chargers in May, he sat at home in Long Island until Green Bay called in late July and offered him a spot on the 80-man roster.
What has he done in Green Bay? Van Roten impressed enough people during training camp to earn a spot on the practice squad. He then impressed enough people on the practice squad to earn a spot on the 53-man roster when running back Cedric Benson was placed on injured reserve in the middle of October. He spent the rest of the season as a backup at both center and guard and as part of the kick return unit.
What can we expect in 2013? Unless a center is drafted in the early rounds, Evan Dietrich-Smith figures to enter camp as the starter. But that doesn’t mean Van Roten can’t steal the job away. He doesn’t have Dietrich-Smith’s experience, but he’s a better athlete. And let’s be honest, playing center isn’t exactly rocket science – especially for a guy who’s probably bright enough to actually be a rocket scientist.
“A few months ago, I was sitting on my couch, and now I’m playing for one of the best franchises in NFL history with one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history [Aaron Rodgers],” he said. “Sometimes I ask myself, ‘Why am I here? How am I here?’ But I’ll do everything I can to stay here.”