GREEN BAY, Wis. – Green Bay Packers guard Simon Stepaniak, a 2020 draft pick who missed the last two practices of training camp for personal reasons, has decided to retire. The Packers placed Stepaniak on the reserve/retired list after Saturday’s practice.
A source said his decision was based on mental, not physical, health.
Of Stepaniak’s 31 career starts at Indiana, 30 came at right guard. As a senior team captain in 2019, he started 10 games at right guard and one at left guard to earn a third-team nod on the all-Big Ten team. Pro Football Focus charged him with just one sack as a senior. However, he suffered a torn ACL during the leadup to the Hoosiers’ Gator Bowl appearance and had surgery in January – about three-and-a-half months before the draft.
The Packers drafted him in the sixth round last year, anyway, knowing that his rookie season would the be the equivalent of a redshirt year as he rehabbed the injury. The spent most of the year on injured reserve before being added to the roster for the final four games of the season. He was inactive in each, then reverted back to injured reserve for the playoffs.
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For the first two days of training camp this year, Stepaniak opened as the No. 2 right guard.
Stepaniak (6-4, 313) is a physical powerhouse who made Bruce Feldman’s annual “Freaks” list while at Indiana. At the Scouting Combine, he showed that power by putting up 37 reps on the 225-pound bench press, even though the knee surgery limited his prep.
“I take pride in my athleticism,” as well, Stepaniak said upon being drafted. “I don’t think I’m a one-sided player. I think I can get the job done, whatever’s asked of me, and hopefully I continue to show that as I continue playing and other people get eyes on me. I’m excited to give everything I have for this fan base and for this team and for that locker room and excited just to get to work.”
Stepaniak would have been a good fit in Green Bay’s scheme, his former Indiana offensive line coach.
“I think he fits well,” Darren Hiller, who compared Stepaniak to “The Hulk,” said last year. “He understands angles and he’s smart. He’s just got to continue to get better on the outside zone. Just watching the Packers, I know they run quite a bit of outside zone. Simon fits in. To me, because of his athletic ability and his strength, I think he can thrive in any type of scheme. I’ve coached guys who were maybe a little bit bigger and stiffer. The zone scheme, you have to have some athletic ability. It’s not just get on a track and block whatever’s on that track. There’s some concepts and combinations that you have to be able to get onto linebackers and run some combo blocks. He has that fluidity.”
The Packers had 17 offensive linemen on the roster, including injured All-Pro David Bakhtiari. Throughout the start of camp, the team has created numerous combinations. With Pro Bowl left guard Elgton Jenkins sliding out to left tackle, Ben Braden and Jon Runyan have continued to cycle in with the No. 1 offense at left guard. With the twos, undrafted rookie Jacob Capra got the first snap on Saturday.