Building from within.
It’s what Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson is known for. And it’s a part of the reason why there are no former New England Patriots on Green Bay’s roster. But when the two sides meet at Lambeau Field for the 4:25 p.m. kickoff on Sunday, connections will remain between them.
Leading up to the Week 13 contest, here is a closer look at 11.
David Bakhtiari, Offensive Tackle: There are three University of Colorado products on Green Bay’s 53-man roster; the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Bakhtiari is one of them. Bakhtiari arrived in Boulder three years after future Patriots first-round pick Nate Solder did. Both of them, however, were on the Colorado offensive line for all 12 games in 2010. And when Solder departed for Foxborough after his redshirt senior season, it was Bakhtiari who took over his starting place at left tackle in 2011. He would become a Packers fourth-round draft pick two years later – after meeting with the Patriots at the NFL combine that February – and has started 27 games since.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Safety: Green Bay’s most recent first-round pick was an Alabama standout, along with Packers running back Eddie Lacy and practice-squad linebacker Adrian Hubbard. And during his freshman campaign under head coach Nick Saban in 2011, the 6-foot-1, 208-pound safety was a reserve on the back end of a defense anchored by 2012 Patriots first-round linebacker Dont’a Hightower. Clinton-Dix has played in all 11 games for Green Bay this season, recording 64 tackles, one sack, five pass deflections, an interception and a fumble recovery.
Matt Flynn, Quarterback: Long before Flynn was a Packer, a Seattle Seahawk, an Oakland Raider and a Buffalo Bill, he was a starting quarterback at LSU in 2007. One of his wide receivers back then was a redshirt sophomore named Brandon LaFell. LaFell – now New England’s starting “X” target – led the Tigers with 656 receiving yards and was second with 50 receptions that season, while Flynn led the team with 2,407 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Datone Jones, Defensive End: The UCLA defensive front was once home to both Jones and Patriots edge-rusher Akeem Ayers. It was Ayers who entered the program first in 2007, then the 6-foot-4, 285-pound Jones followed suit in 2008, and the two made their Bruins debuts that season. Jones and Ayers went on to play 23 games together through 2010, compiling a total of 18 sacks before Ayers landed with the Tennessee Titans as a second-round pick in 2011. Jones landed with the Packers as a first-round pick in 2013, and he’s played in 24 games to record 26 tackles, 4.5 sacks and a fumble recovery since then.
Justin Perillo, Tight End: Perillo may not have been college teammates with any current Patriots, but he did attend the University of Maine, where he started 35 of 44 games on the way to reeling in 128 passes for 1,318 yards and 15 touchdowns. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound tight end went undrafted this past may before signing with the Packers. He’s played in two games this season.
Richard Rodgers, Tight End: Though Rodgers was born in California – and ultimately played college football there – he moved to Worcester, Mass., and played high school football at nearby St. John’s. The rookie third-round choice has played in all 11 games for Green Bay this season, catching 11 passes for 137 yards and one score.
Jared Abbrederis, Wide Receiver: Abbrederis currently resides on injured reserve due to an ACL tear suffered in August. But the rookie fifth-rounder once resided in Madison, where he tied the Wisconsin Badgers’ all-time receptions record and was teammates with Patriots rookie halfback James White for four seasons.
Kevin Dorsey, Wide Receiver: After starting the year on the practice squad, Dorsey was promoted to Green Bay’s active roster before being placed on injured reserve with a foot injury on Nov. 8. The second-year wideout was a seventh-round selection out of Maryland one year ago, where he was teammates with All-American defensive lineman Joe Vellano, presently on New England’s practice squad.
Khyri Thornton, Defensive Tackle: Thornton manned the Southern Mississippi defensive line for four seasons. And for three of them, Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins was nearby. After Collins joined New England as a second-round pick in 2013, the 6-foot-3 defensive tackle joined Green Bay as a third-round pick in 2014. On Aug. 30, Thornton was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.
B.J. Raji, Defensive Tackle: The ninth overall pick in the 2009 draft tore his right bicep on Aug. 22, ending his season. Yet over his first five seasons with the Packers, Raji played in 76 games, accumulating 129 tackles, 10.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a Super Bowl victory. He did so via Boston College.
Dom Capers, Defensive Coordinator: Capers has been coaching the defensive side of the ball in Green Bay since 2009. But in 2008, the former AP NFL coach of the year was in charge of the secondary in New England, where he also served as a special assistant.