Throughout this preseason, the Green Bay Packers have struggled on offense when the backups enter football games. A large portion of the responsibility for this falls at the feet of the offensive line. Although the starting line remains a strong unit once again this season, the reserves have struggled in game action, to say the least.
Through three exhibition games, the Packers’ reserve line has allowed fourteen quarterback sacks and has generated little push in the running game. However, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said this during his Monday press conference when asked about his reserve linemen: “I feel great about our offensive line depth. We have great numbers there.”
Now, McCarthy said something similar last week when asked about the performance of left tackle Jason Spriggs, who had a rough game in Washington. It could just be that McCarthy does not want to call out his players publicly. Or, he and his coaching staff could have legitimately graded out the backup linemen higher than those outside the facility at 1265 Lombardi Avenue believe.
To be fair, McCarthy hedged his first comment a bit — but only a bit — by saying that “everybody needs to learn from their last experience.” Still, he went on to say that he thought the film that the team has from Saturday’s loss to the Denver Broncos was “excellent” and that the “quality of play for evaluation was definitely there.”
Whatever the case may be, the Packers must hope that their starting line remains intact, because the results so far in game action speak for themselves, regardless of the head coach’s vague comments.
McCarthy did also address the front seven on the Packers’ defense as well, noting that “we got a little thin there” when Nick Perry and Jayrone Elliott were forced to leave the game in the first half. Leading up to the fourth and final contest of the preseason, it was unlikely that Perry would have played anyway, but he will almost certainly sit along with Clay Matthews. McCarthy alluded to this, saying that “week four will (have) some great opportunities for the younger cats,” referring to young edge rushers like Kyler Fackrell, Reggie Gilbert, and Johnathan Calvin.
One other player who may have an opportunity to contribute this week is fourth-round draft pick Vince Biegel, who has seemed to take positive steps forward in his rehab recently. McCarthy was his usual coy self about that situation, however: “We’ll see with the Vince Biegel situation what comes to light this week.” When asked by reporter Tom Silverstein if he is hopeful that Biegel will return, McCarthy dropped his best line of the press conference: “I’m full of hope, Tom. I’m the captain of hope.”
The final injury news (or lack thereof) that McCarthy discussed related to Perry, Bryan Bulaga, and Don Barclay, all of whom face concerns about ankle injuries. Again, McCarthy said he is “hopeful,” this time about those three players’ chances of playing in week one against the Seahawks. “We’ll see how it sorts out, they’re here every day,” he said. “(In) my conversations with those guys, (they say) they’re all going to be ready. We’ll weigh that with the medical staff, and I’m optimistic.”