In what has been a busy week for the Green Bay Packers, the team has added another piece to their offensive line. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the Packers have signed veteran offensive tackle Dennis Kelly.
Kelly has spent the last four seasons of his career with the Tennessee Titans, starting every single game last season for them at right tackle. The 31-year-old veteran now has a chance to compete for Green Bay's right tackle position in training camp and preseason.
Kelly was originally drafted out of Purdue with the No. 153 overall pick in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. After spending the first three seasons of his career with the Eagles, Kelly was traded to the Titans in exchange for wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Kelly started in 32 games for Tennessee in the four seasons he spent there and was a full-time starter on the offensive line that helped pave the way for a 2,000-yard rushing season for running back Derrick Henry last season. He was also one of only two offensive tackles to play at least 1,000 passing snaps and not allow a sack last season.
Per Rachel Hopmayer of NBC26 News, Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, who was the offensive coordinator for the Titans in 2018 while Kelly was on the team, had the following to say regarding his new offensive tackle:
First of all, what a great person. He’s gonna bring so much to our locker room … he’s a guy that shows up each and every time. I know last year he got the most time as a starter in his career. He’s a massive man.
Kelly's first day at training camp came with a little humor, as he took the field sporting a #69 David Bakhtiari jersey, the team's All-Pro left tackle who is currently rehabbing from a torn ACL that ended his season in December. Bakhtiari later came out wearing a #79 Kelly jersey.
Green Bay lost a significant piece to their offensive line in free agency when All-Pro center Corey Linsley departed to sign with the Los Angeles Chargers. With the timetable for Bakhtiari's return still unknown, the Packers offensive line could look quite different to start the season compared to a year ago at this time. Pro Bowl guard Elgton Jenkins has the versatility needed to fill in at pretty much any position along the line if needed. Billy Turner spent last season at right tackle and could remain there in 2021 unless moved elsewhere. Kelly is a candidate at right tackle now as well. Between Turner, Kelly, and Jenkins, Green Bay will find an answer for the potential absence of Bakhtiari to start the season.
“There’s a ton of competition in that room," LaFleur said of the offensive line. "There’s going to be a lot of shuffling during training camp and trying to find the five that fit.”
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