This isn’t exactly the starting tackle combination the Green Bay Packers had in mind when they revamped their offensive line in the offseason, but they will go into the regular season with a rookie fourth-round pick starting at left tackle and a second-year former undrafted free agent on the right side.
Coach Mike McCarthy confirmed after Thursday’s preseason finale at Kansas City that Don Barclay likely will be the starter at right tackle for the Week 1 game at San Francisco.
Barclay, who started six games last year as an undrafted rookie, will team with David Bakhtiari at the tackle spots. Bakhtiari, the fourth-round pick from Colorado, stepped in after Bryan Bulaga sustained a season-ending knee on Aug. 3. The Packers had moved Bulaga from right tackle this offseason as part of their changes up front.
Marshall Newhouse, the starter the previous two seasons at left tackle, will serve as the backup at both tackle spots.
“We’ll go through the week process, but that’s the direction we’re headed,” McCarthy said after the 30-8 loss to the Chiefs. “That’s why [we] really treated Marshall, we felt like we had six starters tonight as far as the play time stepping into this game. We can go any way we need to go there, so I feel very good about a three-way rotation. … You go back to the beginning of training camp, Barclay was the one who was moving around, even started with him at center and guard, and then Marshall’s been the one that’s been rotating [at] right tackle and left tackle, so we’re in good shape.”
But it’s not the tackle combination the Packers envisioned. When they drafted Bulaga in 2010 and Derek Sherrod in 2011, the surely figured they would have the pair of first-round draft picks as their starting tackles for years to come.
But with Bulaga on injured reserve and Sherrod on the physically unable to perform list because he still hasn’t returned from the broken leg he sustained on Dec. 18, 2011, that’s the situation the Packers are in at the two most important positions on the offensive line.