GREEN BAY, Wis. – Suspended by the NFL on Friday, Green Bay Packers rookie offensive lineman Sean Rhyan’s season has gone from bad to worse.
Or, perhaps, from bad to over.
The league suspended Rhyan for six games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. According to the league, Rhyan is eligible to return to the 53-man roster on Monday, Jan. 9. That’s the day after the regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions.
Assuming the Packers don’t reach the playoffs, the suspension means Rhyan’s rookie season will have ended with him playing just one snap – special teams at Detroit on Nov. 6. He didn’t play in Week 1, then was a gameday inactive each of the next five weeks.
Rhyan’s agency, Steinberg Sports, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rhyan was a three-year starting left tackle at UCLA but has been anchored mostly at guard as a rookie. The transition hasn’t been easy; he never made a move to challenge returning starters Jon Runyan or Royce Newman in training camp. When the Packers needed to replace left guard Elgton Jenkins on short notice at Buffalo, they went with fourth-round pick Zach Tom.
“Sean, he’s got a helmet on game day, so anyone who does, you better be ready and be prepared to be a starter,” offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich said last month. “He’s a guy that’s progressing every week as well. He’s learning how to become a professional, learning what it takes to be successful in this league and he has a ways to go, yes, but I like how he’s coming along.”
That Rhyan won’t be available to play in games is not a big deal; he wasn’t playing, anyway. The big deal is the suspension will rob him of six weeks of necessary development that could help him compete in 2023.
When he was drafted, Rhyan called Packers defensive lineman Kenny Clark – a fellow UCLA product – “Mr. Clark” and admitted to being a bit starstruck seeing the likes of Aaron Rodgers and David Bakhtiari.
“It’s surreal. But I’m in the same locker room as them now,” he said. “Time to kind of build a name for myself. Just like when you hear David’s name, you know exactly who he is and how good of a player he is, especially Aaron Rodgers, too. You know who they are. It’s time for me to start building my name up a little bit. I’m in the same locker room as them, with two great veterans.”
Rhyan was a late arrival to football. He was too busy surfing, playing violin and competing in judo, baseball and rugby – the latter of which he was good enough to be considered for the U.S. Olympic rugby program. Five games into his high school career, he collected his first major offer.
His father was a professional motocross racer and his grandfather was a professional boxer.
“Just being well-rounded, knowing that pretty much hard work doesn’t go unnoticed,” Rhyan said. “No matter what sport you’re playing, if you work hard, you’re going to make gains and be in a good place at the end of the day.”
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General manager Brian Gutekunst has selected five players in the third round. With the suspension of Rhyan and the recent release of Amari Rodgers, only 2020 tight end Josiah Deguara will be on the field for the Packers at the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
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