Strolling through the comments of the last few days I have been coming across plenty of comments about two things in reaction to the first preseason game against the Chargers. The first is that the Packers need to upgrade their running back position. The other is that there are serious problems at left tackle. It's easy to understand where these thoughts are coming from, each of these position groups underwhelmed in the Charger game. James Starks continued his 2012 "Camp of Meh" and Herb Taylor / Andrew Datko show was probably only pleasing to Charger fans. It looks like Ted Thompson took the problems at running back seriously with the signing of Cedric Benson, but should the Packers be just as worried about the tackle spot right now?
There is a certain logic behind this question. The offensive line was just as bad as the running back, and the left tackles were all particularly awful. The left tackle may even be more important than the running back in the Packers' offense. He's the guy who makes sure that Rodgers has time and stay healthy all year long, or at least the guy who protects Rodgers' blind side. Mix in the fact that it was really bad out there on Thursday and there should be a recipe for concern right?
All I can say is: "One swallow does not make a summer."
It's a bit unfair to look at the third string tackle that was put out there on Thursday as representative of what the Packers hope to do with the position during the year. Marshall Newhouse and Derek Sherrod were both out and Herb Taylor was going to struggle to make the team anyways. Now this third stringer is supposed to measure up to the a starting unit? This isn't exactly like James Starks having a disappointing night following a disappointing camp.
Right now the LT situation hinges on Newhouse. Once Newhouse gets right and gets back on the field we will see that he is a generally acceptable option who should hold down the position nicely. This is what we saw last year during the season, and now with a full offseason to bulk up and work on technique it should be better. This should give Sherrod time to heal up as well. Sherrod is a big man and still has plenty of hope to his career. Give him the chance to get his feet under him and play the position he has been playing most of his career (people tend to forget that last year he was thrown to the guard spot while trying to learn the offense at the same time) and he should be fine.
If the worst should happen and Newhouse can't go when Sherrod isn't healthy then the Packers have a few better options than sending Taylor back out. For one they can shuffle around a few guys along the line to get a better LT and work the depth at other positions, which means sending Evan Dietrich-Smith to guard and T.J. Lang to LT. The addition of Reggie Wells may also give some hope since he can play guard and tackle.
Right now I will admit that the left tackle position doesn't look as it did a month ago, but keep the faith. Nothing has been said to make me think that Newhouse will be prevented from starting week one. Sherrod should be healthy soon enough, although if he doesn't make it back soon he may be destined to rest another six weeks on the PUP. Once we get those two guys back and healthy the tackle spot will be doing much better.