GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers doesn't watch the one-on-one pass-blocking drill during training camp -- the Green Bay Packers quarterback has other responsibilities while the linemen try to block the pass-rushers -- but if did, he'd like what he saw.
Sure, it's a drill that favors the offense because anything short of the defensive player displacing the quarterback is a win -- subjective as it may be -- for the offense. But the Packers' offensive line has dominated the drill even more regularly this year.
The blockers have won 74 percent of the reps, by unofficial count. If the linemen stay on that pace for the rest of training camp, it will be their highest winning percentage since at least 2014. The previous high during that time was 71 percent in 2015.
The projected starting five has a combined 38-9 record in the one-on-one drill. David Bakhtiari (8-1) and Corey Linsley (8-1) have the best records, followed by Lane Taylor (7-2) and Bryan Bulaga (7-2). Jahri Evans (8-3) has taken two more reps.
It seemed almost preposterous to think the Packers offensive line could be better this season after losing Pro Bowl guard T.J. Lang to the Detroit Lions in free agency, but when coach Mike McCarthy was asked about that this week, he didn't hesitate.
"I would say the offensive line room has a chance to be one of the best ones that we've had," McCarthy said. "And that's so important because those guys do so much together and the intricacies of playing next to one another because as you look through the history of the NFL, your best lines are the ones that pretty much play every week together, week in and week out, and get the number of starts."
The first chance to put that to the test comes Thursday night in the preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. Most -- if not all -- of the No. 1 line should get at least some work, even though Rodgers is not likely to play.
Players and coaches alike have raved about Evans, the newest starter on the line. The 33-year-old, who played all 11 of his previous seasons for the New Orleans Saints, has been a welcome addition at right guard. What's more, Evans has taken every practice rep that offensive line coach James Campen asked of him and balked when Campen offered to reduce his workload.
"He said, 'Coach, I'm worker,'" Campen said. "Then you go see [right tackle] Bryan [Bulaga], Bryan's like, 'No, I want to get work with him.' So he hasn't had very many reps off. [Evans is] solid, he wants to work, he came in -- I won’t tell you his weight, but you can clearly see he looks terrific.
“Again, I go back to when he first got here, he made the statement to me, said, 'I want to be coached. Don't assume that I know everything because of what I've done in the past.' He does not live in the past whatsoever. He's brought instant credibility into the room not only by his presence and what he's done in the past, but how communicates with everyone. He dives right in. I mean, heck, he asks questions that rookies would ask because he wants to know why."
In one year, the interior of the Packers' line has changed completely. At this time last year, Lang and Josh Sitton were the starting guards, with JC Tretter between them at center. Now it's Evans and Taylor, with Linsley between them. Midway through the season, Linsley replaced Tretter who had replaced Linsley because of injury. Bakhtiari, the left tackle, is coming off his best season, when he made second-team All-Pro.
While Bakhtiari and Bulaga have been around Green Bay the longest, they've welcomed Evans and his vast experience.
"How many games has he started?" Bakhtiari asked, and then answered correctly. "One hundred sixty-nine, right? That's a lot of starts, going against a lot of different opponents. The game's definitely evolved from when he first started playing, so a lot of things he's learned, he's been able to give the knowledge to us. The fact that he's going into his 12th year, you just want to sit down and pick his brain because he's got a lot of knowledge."