Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Packers' New Look Offensive Line

It hasn't been a great season for the Green Bay Packers' offensive line and they could be making some changes across the line next year. But in the meantime, the o-line is getting a new lineup because of injuries. The new starting right tackle has only one regular season game under his belt and the backups don't even have that much.
The hope was that RT T.J. Lang could bounce back from his ankle injury and return on Sunday, but that hope seems to be lost. It appears undrafted rookie RT Don Barclay will have to start this week, and he'll probably struggle as he did against the Vikings, even if he does gets some help with a chip block from the tight end.

If coaching the offensive line is a thankless job, then this has to be the low water mark. QB Aaron Rodgers has been getting sacked too often and the running game has been going nowhere. Now offensive line coach James Campen has to help Barclay get ready to start, and see if he can get a better performance from LG Evan Dietrich-Smith, who's been struggling and committing too many penalties. Even LT Marshall Newhouse, who allowed two sacks last week to DE Jared Allen last week and a lot of pressure against the Giants, could use some extra advice. Finally, he's got to get a couple rookies up to speed.

LG Greg Van Roten has been on the active roster for a few weeks, but he hasn't played on offense yet. Since he's the next man up, he'll see playing time if any of the other lineman are forced out of the game. He'd probably replace either of the guards if they were hurt, but if another tackle was injured, I wouldn't be surprised to see Van Roten play at guard and RG Josh Sitton move to tackle.

The other option might be to play rookie OL Andrew Datko at tackle. With the re-signing of OL Shea Allard to the practice squad, it's been speculated that Datko could be added to the active roster if Lang is ruled out. As for Allard, he was bad during the preseason, and he confirmed that by admitting he hadn't drawn any interest since the Packers released him at the end of preseason. Familiarity seems to be as good as any other option at this point. Since the Packers probably don't want Allard to do anything more than play on the scout team, familiarity might be all they want.

There's not much for the offensive line to do except to hold on. Their struggles have been keeping a lid on the offense this season, and it's not going to get better over the next few weeks.

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