The Green Bay Packers made news this offseason with their near-wholesale switch of offensive line positions. Incumbent starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga was moved to the left tackle position. Joining him on the left side is fellow former starting right guard Josh Sitton, who is now the projected starter at left guard.
The gaping hole that is now the Packers’ right tackle slot belongs to whomever can step up and earn it. Last season’s starting left tackle, Marshall Newhouse, is now competing for the starting right tackle spot, along with second-year tackle Don Barclay, rookie fourth-round draft pick David Bakhtiari and 2012 seventh-round draft pick Andrew Datko.
In head coach Mike McCarthy‘s Thursday press conference, he had this to say about the right tackle competition:
“Marshall’s been running with the ones. I think it’s like any position — people need to earn it. They need to take it. Marshall needs to earn it and the other players — David and Don — need to earn it. It’s going to take some time and we’re just getting started.”
It’s not good news for Datko that he did not get mentioned by McCarthy for this opening for the starting right tackle role. Barclay’s odds of earning the starting right tackle spot, a job he held for six games last season, are further complicated by time spent filling in at center. During training camp, Barclay has been taking reps at center and has repeatedly struggled with shotgun snaps. Datko has also been taking reps at guard.
Bakhtiari’s stock appears to be on the rise. Earlier this week, McCarthy said, “I think Dave is off to an excellent start. I think he is someone that is worthy of more reps. He’s clearly one of the guys that has made a step in the padded work. So I’m very pleased with what he’s done so far.” Bakhtiari has been taking reps at both right and left tackle.
The competition remains wide open. Barring injury, the final determination for the starting right tackle spot and key backups will be determined in the first three preseason games.