While a Packers starter has yet to go down, the same cannot be said for the team's reserves.
The worst injury of training camp occurred during Tuesday's team blitz drill in which offensive lineman Don Barclay suffered a torn ACL. Assuming the accuracy of the report, the tear constitutes the second season-ending injury to a Packers player. Wide receiver Jared Abbrederis tore the ACL in his right knee last week.
Whereas the loss of Abbrederis primarily affected special teams, Barclay's injury could have a substantial impact on Green Bay's offense. For a team that hasn't gone a full season with the same starting offensive tackles since 2007, Barclay was a valuable insurance policy. Referred to as the sixth starter by head coach Mike McCarthy, Barclay projected as the primary backup at no less than three positions— right tackle and both guard spots. Additionally, an injury at center would have likely also brought Barclay onto the field with guard T.J. Lang shifting over the ball. Such a versatile lineman is a rare luxury for an NFL team.
While the Packers have talented blockers to cover for Barclay, none possess his NFL game experience. Over the past two seasons, Barclay amassed 1,502 regular season snaps. That figure dwarfs the 135 combined snaps taken by Derek Sherrod, Lane Taylor, and Corey Linsley, the three linemen the Packers will lean on in Barclay's absence. Inexperience is the enemy of good offensive line play. If or when a starter misses time, the adjustment to a green replacement could cost Green Bay games.
Moving beyond the 2014 season, Barclay's ACL tear will negatively affect his market value. Entering the league in 2012, Barclay signed the standard three-year deal for undrafted free agents. With that deal set to expire at the conclusion of the upcoming season, Barclay will become a restricted free agent. A strong 2014 campaign may have forced the Packers to tender him at the second-round level. However, with a year-long stint on the injured reserve awaiting him, Barclay will likely have to settle for the minimum tender if he gets tendered at all. That tender would be a raise of $756,000 over his 2014 salary (based on the 2014 tender figures), or over half the total value of Barclay's three-year rookie contract.
Barclay's injury also further clouds the Packers' right tackle position after this year. With starter Bryan Bulaga hitting free agency next offseason, Barclay might have been a comparatively cheap alternative should GM Ted Thompson decide to allow the oft-injured Bulaga to depart. After a yearlong absence, there's no guarantee that the Packers will still view Barclay as a starting-caliber player. If such is indeed the case, it may force the Packers to devote resources at the position that would have otherwise been invested elsewhere.
Barclay may not have been one of the Packers' 22 offensive and defensive starters, but he was easily one of their most valuable commodities. While his injury isn't akin to the fractured collarbone Aaron Rodgers suffered last year, the offensive tackle was Green Bay's own Aflac Duck— additional insurance for their $110 million quarterback. The Packers hoped Barclay wouldn't be needed, but they sure felt a lot more comfortable knowing he could enter the starting lineup in a pinch.