The injury headlines mostly coming out of Green Bay right now have been dealing with Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, James Jones and of course Randall Cobb. While all these injuries are serious to the success of the team, one injury that has slipped under the radar a little bit that could have even more disastrous ramifications is that backup interior linemen Greg Van Roten has been placed on injured reserve with a foot injury, ending his season. The reason why this should be more concerning then most people are realizing is two fold 1) there is no official backup center at the moment (Ourlads still has Van Roten as the backup) and more importantly 2) knowing how the Packers offense, chances are good an injury to starter Evan Dietrich-Smith will result in a lot of linemen playing new positions. While losing two outside linebackers or two wide receivers is obviously not great, young back up players have a good shot at hiding some of that loss; for instance Jamari Lattimore did a astounding job last week in his first start, Mike Neal and Nick Perry have also done a great job covering for the loss of Clay Matthews and Jarrett Boykin looked to finally get in sync with quarterback Aaron Rodgers near the end of the game. However, losing the starting center for the Packers is like losing the starting center, guard and probably tackle as the entire offensive line will be shuffled as a result. Considering the fact that the backup center is currently unknown, below are some of the possible offensive line options.
Situation: Evan Dietrich-Smith is injured, the Packers offensive line will look like…
Option 1: Bakhtiari (LT), Sitton (LG), Barclay (C), Lang (LG), Newhouse (RT) – postion changes: 2
Under the “best man available” strategy that the Packers love to employ, they bring out their 5 best offensive linemen out but probably in the worst position. Barclay was seriously considered for the center position during the offseason but was pretty much an abject failure with multiple botched snaps and a general uneasiness about the position according to reports. Newhouse takes Barclay’s place at right tackle, a position he’s never played in the NFL and one where he didn’t look all that comfortable in during preseason games either. Surprisingly, Barclay has been pretty decent in pass protection this year and is a sizable upgrade in terms of run blocking to Newhouse so overall, it’s a total loss at right tackle. On the plus side, Newhouse does have the most experience of the backups and probably has the best rapport with Rodgers but he’s never been able to overcome his limited physical abilities to become a really dependable player. Nevertheless, if Dietrich-Smith was injured this week, I’m guessing this is what the Packers do.