Barclay poised to start at left tackle against Steelers
They might not go in the same direction in a regular season game, but the Green Bay Packers appear set to start Don Barclay at left tackle if David Bakhtiari’s sore knee prevents him from playing in Sunday’s preseason game at Pittsburgh.
Bakhtiari missed Wednesday’s practice, the second consecutive practice he’s missed since playing in last week’s preseason opener at New England, and Barclay again took the first-team reps at left tackle in Bakhtiari’s place.
“[Bakhtiari] is on a program that’s going to pretty much keep him out all week. If it’s up to me, unless the information [from the medical staff] is different, he’ll be a stretch to play in Pittsburgh,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said before practice.
“Donnie’s going to work there – he worked there Monday, he’ll work there today. It’s important for him to get that work. We may look at a couple other guys there too.”
Asked if he was considering starting Barclay if Bakhtiari doesn’t play, McCarthy replied, “That would be a consideration.”
Barclay, who missed all of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee suffered in training camp last year, struggled during both Family Night on Aug. 8 and against the Patriots. Barclay was in the locker room briefly Wednesday but said he wasn’t able to talk to reporters because he was headed to a workout; he returned as the media availability period ended.
How severe Bakhtiari’s injury is is unclear, but even if the injury isn’t serious, it’s significant because the Packers’ top-notch offensive line was so healthy throughout last season. Only one starter, right tackle Bryan Bulaga, missed one start (against the New York Jets in Week 2) as the unit started 17 total games (including playoffs) intact and the four other starters didn’t miss a game.
“We’ve been running with [the same] five guys all last year and through OTAs. David Bakhtiari’s situation has now created opportunities for other guys to fit in there,” McCarthy said. “But in a perfect world you’d like to establish your offensive line, especially going into a preseason game. That’s always been our goal.”
McCarthy could shift Bulaga over to left tackle – he was set to be the team’s starting left tackle in 2013 before his own ACL injury, which opened the door for Bakhtiari – and play Barclay at right tackle if he wanted to go that direction.
Playing with the No. 2 line against the Patriots, Barclay worked at right tackle.
‘When somebody goes down, you always want to have one moving part – you don’t want two,” left guard Josh Sitton said of plugging in Barclay instead of shifting Bulaga. “Anytime you have two, you’re going to have two people not necessarily playing out of position, but two guys who maybe didn’t get a lot of reps at that position. Anytime it’s just one guy, it’s going to be a lot better.”
Sitton said he’s liked what he’s seen from Barclay, who was a three-year starter at left tackle in college at West Virginia, in Bakhtiari’s spot the past two practices.
“I think one of the things that we’ve needed to find is someone to be able to back up Dave. Donnie’s come in and done a nice job,” Sitton said. “I think he feels pretty comfortable at left tackle. He’s done a nice job. I’ve felt pretty comfortable with him the last few days. I think it’s given him an opportunity to show what he can do on that side and I think he’s taken advantage of it.”