Just nine practices into the Green Bay Packers 2014 training camp and already two players that had been projected to make the team’s 53-man roster have gone down to injury. First, it was rookie wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, then yesterday, the Packers suffered a more significant blow, as reserve offensive lineman Don Barclay tore his ACL, an injury that will end his season.
The loss of Abbrederis hurt, but let’s face it, the Packers have plenty of depth at receiver, so the loss was easier to overcome. Barclay, on the other hand, was the team’s swing tackle and first backup at both tackle and guard. It’s a huge blow to the depth of the Green Bay offensive line and puts a ton of pressure on 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod.
Sherrod, who broke his leg in two places during his rookie season, missed all of 2012 and most of 2013, during his recovery. However, he has been healthy this offseason and went through every step of the team’s offseason program. With Barclay out, it’s imperative for him to step up and be a legitimate player for the Packers offensive line or one injury to Bryan Bulaga or David Bakhtiari could sink Green Bay’s season.
The last time Green Bay made it through a season with both of their tackles starting all 16 games was back in 2007, so it’s likely Sherrod will have to play eventually. By all accounts, he has held up well in training camp this summer and has excelled in the one-on-one pass blocking situations. He also has the size and athleticism to succeed as an offensive tackle in the NFL and did play well in his limited opportunity in 2011.
The loss of Barclay is going to hurt because even with Sherrod, the Packers have only three quality tackles, when they used to have four. Starting guard T.J. Lang can kick out of tackle if needed but even then, the top projected backups on the inside right now are Corey Linsley at center and Taylor Lane at guard, neither of whom have ever started a game in the NFL.
The injury to Barclay does weaken the Packers depth chart but if Sherrod can fulfill his potential and be the player he once was, then Green Bay may have just enough tackle depth to get by and keep Aaron Rodgers upright.