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Dennis Kelly was a fifth-round pick out of Purdue by the Eagles in the 2012 draft.

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GREEN BAY — Dennis Kelly is apparently going to fit in just fine around here.

The veteran offensive lineman, who agreed to terms with the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday and officially signed with the team Thursday in time for the second practice of training camp, will wear No. 79 for his new team.

But as he strode onto Ray Nitschke Field Thursday morning, he did so incognito: He was wearing All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari’s No. 69 jersey, which led to more than a few double takes — given that Bakhtiari is on the physically unable to perform list and isn’t expected to return to action for awhile after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee on Dec. 31.

Eventually, Kelly and Bakhtiari put a stop to their hijinks and Kelly put on his actual jersey. But given his experience — the 31-year-old Kelly comes to Green Bay having played in 104 career NFL games, including starting 17 games (including playoffs) at right tackle for the Tennessee Titans last season — he will certainly help the Packers get by without Bakhtiari if Bakhtiari isn’t medically cleared in time for the Sept. 12 season opener at New Orleans.

While general manager Brian Gutekunst said the addition of Kelly wasn’t a sign Bakhtiari is behind schedule in his comeback, he did acknowledge Kelly’s experience will be invaluable, much as ex-University of Wisconsin swing tackle Rick Wagner was last season when injuries hit.

“Really, at the tackle spot for us, it gives us some depth,” Gutekunst said. “We have some young players that we’re really excited about, but overall it strengthens what I thought was a pretty strong group.”

It also gives the Packers a veteran lineman familiar with coach Matt LaFleur’s offense, with Kelly having played for LaFleur in 2018 in Tennessee. LaFleur couldn’t rave enough about what Kelly and veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb will add to the locker room, but Kelly’s contributions on the field could be enormous if the Packers have to juggle their line as much as they did a year ago.

“Last year, he got the most time as a starter that he’s had in his career,” LaFleur said, adding that Kelly will be the team’s swing tackle but that his primary spot remains on the right side. “He’s a massive, massive man, and I think it’s going to be a pretty seamless transition because when I left Tennessee, they named Arthur Smith as the offensive coordinator and a lot of the terminology stayed the same. I think it will expedite his learning curve in being able to get him kind of going out there on the field.”

Without Bakhtiari, the Packers’ offensive line during Wednesday’s first practice of camp had Elgton Jenkins at left tackle, Jon Runyan at left guard, rookie Josh Myers at center, Lucas Patrick at right guard and Billy Turner at right tackle.

While the versatile Jenkins did play four positions on the line last year, his primary spot is left guard, where he was selected to his first Pro Bowl. Adding Kelly would allow Turner to move to left tackle if Bakhtiari isn’t ready.

“Elgton Jenkins, I just like him being anywhere on the field. He’s such a dynamic player. There’s not too many guys that can play five positions,” LaFleur said. “So, for now, we’re going to continue to give him some reps at left tackle and we’ll see. We know wherever we put him we’ve got a great player.”

As Gutekunst pointed out, the Packers do have a host of young linemen in the mix, including fourth-round pick Royce Newman and sixth-round pick Cole Van Lanen, a Green Bay-area native who played at UW.

“I tell you what, our offensive line group, this is as deep of a group as I’ve ever been around,” LaFleur said. “There is a ton of competition at that position. The one thing we always stress about competition, it’s going to bring out the best in everybody. So we’re really excited about it.

“There’s going to be a lot of shuffling on the line throughout all of training camp, trying to find the five that fit together the best. And then, at some point, we’ll get David back into that mix as well. … (When) you add another guy that is a proven tackle in Dennis Kelly to the mix, we’re really excited about the possibility of what we could have there.”

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This article originally ran on madison.com.

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