A couple months ago I wrote an article listing talking about the game of musical chairs that the Packers play every year with the offensive line. Just a recap, there probably isn’t another group of players less understood and paradoxically more diverse and similar than offensive linemen. However with the ACL injury to Don Barclay likely costing him the entire year, I thought it would be interesting to go back and reassess the offensive line situation.
Locks: David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, TJ Lang, Bryan Bulaga – No real changes here, every player listed on my first article is still a lock to make the team and I can’t imagine even injury changing this.
Option 1: JC Tretter, Corey Linsley, Derek Sherrod - Probably the most straight forward scenario; whoever ends up losing the race to be the starting center ends up as the swing interior linemen while Derek Sherrod, without any competition from Don Barclay is now entrenched as the swing tackle. One final possibility is if either Tretter or Linsley fare so poorly that they don’t warrant a roster spot, swing interior linemen Garth Gerhart could sneak in as a backup; Gerhart offers positional versatility as well as experience after spending last season on the Packers practice squad.
Option 2: JC Tretter OR Corey Linsley, Lane Taylor, Derek Sherrod – Again the only real open spot is at center and Tretter or Linsley is going to win that job. However in this situation, the Packers feel they’d rather have a true backup guard instead of a tweener and go with Lane Taylor, who managed to stick on the 53 man roster last season and is a mauler in the run game, something now that the Packers actually care about with Eddie Lacy in the fold. Historically, the Packers have favored guards over centers; last season Evan Dietrich-Smith was the lone center on the roster and when EDS was injured the entire offensive line was shuffled with TJ Lang at pivot and subbing Lane Taylor in his spot.
Option 3: JC Tretter AND Corey Linsley, Lane Taylor, Derek Sherrod - Hey, the Packers kept 3 fullbacks one season, so stranger things have happened. The only situation I can think of where this situation happens is that neither Tretter nor Linsley really separates themselves but both prove they can’t play guard. In this case, Taylor is added as insurance at guard and JC Tretter doubles as a swing tackle, his old college position.
I think the main thing to take from all of this is just how golden of an opportunity this is for Derek Sherrod. Before Barclay’s injury, Sherrod was probably a coin flip at best on making the 53 man roster to likely a near lock; simply put the rest of tackles on the Packers roster at the moment are unproven, unexperienced and likely unready to contribute to a NFL roster. The same can be said about Sherrod, but Sherrod does have a prototypical tackle physique and perhaps most importantly has the investment of being a first round pick on his side; Ted Thompson is famous for his focus on the draft and Thompson has always been loath to waste draft picks, especially high one like Sherrod, and thus will give Sherrod every opportunity to prove his worth (see Justin Harrell).
Overall, since my last article, the options have slimmed down somewhat and some questions have been answered, however without any meaningful snaps being played a lot is still in the air. I don’t think many would have predicted Lane Taylor making it on the roster before preseason last year and there might be a dark horse candidate just waiting to make a his presence known.——————
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.