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Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Packers-Bears II: Right-side running

By Kevin Seifert

Green Bay Packers offensive lineman T.J. Lang (ankle) was healthy enough to be in uniform for last Sunday night's game against the Detroit Lions. That progress has led to reasonable speculation that he will be ready to play this Sunday against the Chicago Bears.

The question is what position Lang will play. Coach Mike McCarthy left open the possibility for leaving rookie Don Barclay at right tackle, allowing Lang to return to his natural left guard spot. Barclay might be a less polished pass protector than Lang, but there is no denying his role in a recent upswing in the Packers' running game.

John McTigue of ESPN's Stats & Information supplied the two charts in this post. As you can see, the Packers rushed more frequently and with much better success to the right side of their formation against the Lions and Minnesota Vikings than they did in their previous 11 games before. (Barclay replaced an injured Lang in the second quarter of the Week 13 game against the Vikings.)

Judging offensive line play is difficult from the outside, but the Packers' public satisfaction with Barclay's performance seems to jibe with the numbers. Whatever combination they have stumbled on during this period has worked.

It's worth noting that the Bears' defense has allowed at least 100 team rushing yards in each of their past seven games. Their opponents' average of 141 rushing yards per game ranks the Bears No. 28 in run defense over that stretch. Prior to Week 8, they had limited opponents to an average of 71 rushing yards per game.