Friday, November 09, 2012

How Will The Packers Get By Without Bulaga?

In Pete Dougherty's recent article, he doesn't appear to have any inside information on injured RT Bryan Bulaga, but he can read between the lines and thinks the Packers' silence about Bulaga over the past week is a sign that the injury is serious. If you re-watch the injury on NFL Game Rewind, he might have not even been in contact with another defender when it happened, though sometimes the lack of severity has nothing to do with it's actual extent. Assuming that Dougherty is correct and it's a serious injury that keeps Bulaga out for several weeks, who are their options on the offensive line?

Evan Dietrich-Smith at left guard and T.J. Lang at right tackle. While I've seen the same problems with Dietrich-Smith that the Packers have seen over the past couple years (he's somewhat undersized and can miss his blocking assignments) he played well when he replaced RG Josh Sitton last season. And he looked good against the Cardinals last Sunday too, who have a couple of quality inside pass rushers (Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell). Lang struggled at right tackle when he played it in 2009, but he's certainly improved since his rookie season, though he did allow at least one hit on QB Aaron Rodgers. It's not an ideal situation, and it might be asking a lot of Lang, who's taken a step back at left guard after a strong 2011 season, but it should work.

Undrafted rookies Greg Van Roten and Don Barclay. While both players come from humble origins, they impressed the coaches this summer. If the Packers really believed they could improve on either of them, they could have brought in some other offensive linemen for a workout. Van Roten seemed to have made a big impression on the coaches in practice, while I was less impressed with him during the actual preseason games. Barclay played well throughout the preseason at guard and tackle (Van Roten only played guard). Neither player is a project either. According to, Van Roten started 30 games in college and Barclay played in an impressive 52 games at West Virginia and stated at left tackle for three seasons. While Van Roten was probably undrafted because he played at a small school (Penn), Barclay is undersized for an NFL left tackle and probably not the most athletic player at his position. However, they both seem able to play, if needed.

Seventh round rookie OL Andrew Datko. This preseason, he didn't seem to be over the shoulder problems that plagued him in college and he finds himself on the practice squad instead of the active roster. If he wasn't healthy enough to practice then I don't expect the Packers would be stashing him on the practice squad. During the preseason, he didn't look like an asset in the running game but he did seem to hold up as a pass blocker. He might find himself back on the active roster soon depending on what happens with Bulaga.

Former first round pick Derek Sherrod. The Packers made room for him on the roster this week, but Sherrod still hasn't practiced in forever. It's possible he could return, but it's more likely he'll find himself on season ending I.R. in a couple weeks. They don't need another offensive lineman immediately (with Van Roten and Barclay active on game day, they'll give the Packers their usual seven active offensive lineman) so they can afford to wait a couple weeks on Sherrod.

While that isn't an impressive stockpile of depth, it's decent enough. At least they wouldn't have to rely on someone who's no good, such as former lineman Herb Taylor who was released during the preseason.

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