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Packers practice report: Thin on the O-line

8/8/2013

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers have 15 offensive linemen on their 90-man training camp roster, making it their deepest position ahead of linebacker (13), receiver (12) and defensive line (11).

But on Thursday that group was thin. The Packers were down to nine offensive linemen at practice and may not have any more than 10 available Friday.

Starting right guard T.J. Lang sat out of Thursday’s practice because of a sore back after being involved in a collision during Wednesday’s practice. Don Barclay, who has worked mostly at right tackle and center during training camp, lined up at Lang’s spot with the starting offensive line and would start there against the Cardinals if Lang can’t play.

Two other linemen, backups Andrew Datko and Lane Taylor, also were absent on Thursday. Datko sustained a concussion, according to McCarthy, and Taylor posted on Twitter that he was about to become a father. McCarthy said Taylor is expected to return to the team in time for Friday’s game. Still, the Packers could be without five linemen -- Lang, Datko, J.C. Tretter (ankle), Bryan Bulaga (knee) and Derek Sherrod.

“It’s definitely not where you want to be,” McCarthy said. “Obviously if we line up tomorrow with nine offensive linemen, we’re going to have a player or two playing positions that they haven’t had a lot of reps at. That goes back to why you rep the offensive line the way you do, because it’s situations like this and any time a player can show more value as far as his flexibility within his unit, it definitely helps him.”

The starters are expected to play only a few series against Arizona, but left tackle David Bakhtiari will go longer than the rest of them. Bakhtiari replaced Bulaga, who was lost for the season because of a knee injury, and McCarthy wants to give his newest starter as much as work as possible.

“We’ll try to be smart about it, but he’s obviously going to play a lot more than (starting left guard) Josh Sitton and those guys,” McCarthy said.

Here are some other odds and ends from Thursday’s practice:

  • Receiver Randall Cobb, who injured his biceps on Tuesday, took a few snaps in the jog-through portion of practice and said he would be available to play against the Cardinals. But McCarthy said no decision has been made about Cobb’s availability. The same goes for running back Eddie Lacy, who did not appear to take part in any drills despite having a helmet with him the entire practice.

  • With Lacy out, the running back reps were split between James Starks, Johnathan Franklin, Alex Green and Angelo Pease. Lacy appears to the front-runner for the starting job, although McCarthy told USA Today that he still views the injured DuJuan Harris (who finished last season as the starter) as the starting running back. That explains why Harris was listed as the starter on the team’s first unofficial depth chart released on Monday. “You hate to see anybody lose their starting job due to an injury,” running backs coach Alex Van Pelt said. “So we’d love to get him back in and see if he can pick up where he left off last year, but that remains to be seen."

  • McCarthy opted not to practice in pads, as was originally scheduled, and the workout was the shortest of camp at one hour and 47 minutes. Nevertheless, McCarthy pulled the team together halfway through the session because he didn’t like something he saw. “It’s all part of learning how to practice together,” he said. “It’s where we are as a football team. Everybody has a job responsibility. At the end of the day, my responsibility is to make sure practice looks a certain way.”

Medical report: In addition to the missing offensive linemen plus the previously mentioned Cobb, Harris and Lacy, others were missed practice were: WR Kevin Dorsey (leg), WR Charles Johnson (knee), RB DuJuan Harris (knee), S Sean Richardson (neck), CB Casey Hayward (hamstring), CB Tramon Williams (knee), TE Andrew Quarless (quad), TE Ryan Taylor (knee), WR Jordy Nelson (knee) and DE Jerel Worthy (knee).

What’s next: The preseason opener is Friday night against the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field.