As Tex reported yesterday, the offensive line that received the most reps during OTAs thus far has been the combination of Bryan Bulaga at left tackle, Josh Sitton at left guard, Evan Dietrich-Smith at center, T.J. Lang at right guard, and Marshall Newhouse at right tackle. However, Don Barclay also rotated in at a regular basis with Newhouse at right tackle.
I don't expect the first four positions to change much between now and the start of pre-season, but the fact that Barclay seems to be getting the same amount of reps as Newhouse at right tackle is a little surprising. Obviously, the fact that Newhouse was moved to the opposite end of the line was reason enough to believe that he was not a lock at the position, but for Barclay to already be in position to overtake Newhouse at that spot must mean that either Barclay is performing well, or Newhouse is still struggling.
At RT, Newhouse, Barclay trading off snaps with no. 1 offense— Pete Dougherty (@PeteDougherty) May 21, 2013
This will be a position battle that will likely continue throughout the preseason, and the competition will likely bring out the best in both competitors. According to Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Newhouse wasn't exactly thrilled about the move, but the experience has motivated him to not be the weak link in the offensive line.
It's not going to be something where I lay my head down, or stomp around and throw a fit or anything. It's bear down, honestly ... Be a guy that they can depend on, and I don't want to be perceived as the weak part of the line. That sucks. And less so outside the locker room, more inside the locker room. I want to make myself into a strength of the offensive line.
That's a nice sign of focus and motivation from someone who led the team in allowed hurries (46) and sacks (8) last season according to Pro Football Focus. Actions will speak louder than words as the off-season progresses, but this position seems to be anything but solidified. I expect Derek Sherrod to be involved in the mix if and when he returns from injury as well.
I believe the position will ultimately be Newhouse's to lose, but his leash will be very short with Barclay and Sherrod both pushing him for playing time. The Packers need to protect their investment in Aaron Rodgers' future, and being able to trust your tackles is crucial. The first half of the Packers' third preseason game against the talented defensive line of the Seahawks (The same team that sacked Rodgers 8 times in their week 3 meeting last season), may decide who gets the nod as the starter.
As far as the back-ups on the offensive line:
- Greg Van Rotten took the majority of the snaps at a reserve center role with the back-ups
- Don Barclay took some reps at guard with the second unit
- Rookie David Bakhtiari took reps at right guard with the second unit
- Rookie JC Tretter suffered a broken ankle during a fumble recovery drill on Monday and will be out at least six months.