by Justis Mosqueda
Late Sunday night, news broke of left-tackle Bryan Bulaga's injury. While that in itself is a huge blow to the Packers squad, there are shock waves that the (possible) loss to Bulaga will send through the roster.
First, there will be a new starting tackle. During the first drive of the Packers' Family Night, Bulaga was the left tackle, Josh Sitton was the left guard, Evan Dietrich-Smith was the center, T.J. Lang was the right guard, and Marshall Newhouse was the right tackle. After inconsistent play from Newhouse in 2011 and 2012 at left tackle, the Packers flipped their entire offensive line, including a move of their 2010 first round pick, Bulaga, to the left side. Newhouse and Don Barclay (who also saw playing time in 2012 due to injuries higher up on the depth chart) were the tackles expected to battle for right tackle, but rookie David Bakhtiari was the only other non-"starter" to get time with the first team on Family Night. Bakhtiari and Newhouse split time at right tackle with the first team, and they were both on the second team, Bakhtiari at right tackle and Newhouse at left tackle.
Because of this, I think Newhouse will be the starting left tackle for the Packers as long as: 1) Bulaga is really lost for the year and 2) the 2011 first round pick, Derek Sherrod, isn't ready to start by then. While Newhouse is likely a below average tackle in 2013, he knows the footwork needed to play left tackle, and he has started 29 regular season games the past two years.
With Newhouse at left tackle, it gives way to David Bakhtiari winning the right tackle job. The staff will likely give Bakhtiari some snaps at left tackle in the preseason just to push Newhouse, and give Don Barclay snaps at right tackle to push the rookie, but I'm ready to name the regular season starters today.
Now, here's where the shock waves come in. Don Barclay was the seventh offensive lineman on Family Night (behind Bulaga, Sitton, Dietrich-Smith, Lang, Newhouse, and Bakhtiari). After spending most of last season at right tackle, Barclay's been swinging from center, to right guard, to right tackle, and back again all off-season. After J.C. Tretter, a 2013 draft pick, went down with a ankle injury, there's been no center depth on the Packers squad. Barclay got time on Family Night with the first team (while limited) at right guard, and he started off the game as the center for the second team, but moved to right guard for the second team when Andrew Datko was pulled (playing right guard), and Lane Taylor came in at left guard, moving Greg Van Roten (playing left guard) to center and Barclay (playing center) to right tackle.
If the offensive line was healthy, the 2013 starters would likely be Derek Sherrod (left tackle), Josh Sitton (left guard), Evan Dietrich-Smith (center), T.J. Lang (right guard), and Bryan Bulaga (right tackle) with Marshall Newhouse being the swing tackle, David Bakhtiari being a swing guard that can play right tackle, and J.C. Tretter being a swing guard that can play center. Instead, a Newhouse, Sitton, Dietrich-Smith, Lang, Bakhtiari starting on the line is very likely, with Sherrod backing up Newhouse at left tackle and Barclay and Van Roten backing up the rest. I view Barclay and Van Roten very much as guard prospects, who the Packers are asking to be one injury away from starting at right tackle or center.
No matter who starts, the offense still has Aaron Rodgers. The offense still has the 2011 receiving touchdowns leader, Jordy Nelson. The offense still has the 2012 receiving touchdowns leader, James Jones. The offense still has the Packers single-season all-purpose yard record holder, Randall Cobb. The offense still has Mike McCarthy. The Packers still have Ted Thompson.
It's not like the Packers have had good offensive line health in recent years, anyway.
Everything will be sorted out in time. The Packers will plug in a lineman and have their athletes produce. Packer fans will still yell at Newhouse when Rodgers is sacked. The Packers will still make the playoffs. Everything will be sorted out in time. #InTedWeTrust
Justis Mosqueda is a Journalism student who writes for OptimumScouting.com, DraftFalcons.com, Packers-Backer.blogspot.com, and cuts videos of NFL Draft prospects for DraftBreakdown.com
You can follow Justis on Twitter: Twitter.com/jumosq