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Morning roundup: Guards' maturation signals shift on offensive line

Nov. 6, 2013
 
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Josh Sitton is only 26 years old. Next month, T.J. Lang will turn 25. Both young in their NFL careers, the Green Bay Packers' starting guards have already cemented themselves as the key ingredients to the team's successes over the past few seasons and going forward. The two have quietly also become the team's longest-tenured offensive linemen with veteran tackles Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton both gone. Both signed through the 2016 season, Lang and Sitton are off to a solid start to training camp with a combined 21-0 record during one-on-one pass rush drills. As we analyzed into in our Sunday feature, Lang and Sitton have taken the lessons they've learned from their predecessors while helping groom the Packers' next crop of offensive linemen. “It is funny because we are still young, but that role has kind of snuck up on us,” Sitton said. “With the older guys, Mark and Clif leaving, we’ve had to take it upon ourselves to step up and be the leaders. I think we’re doing a nice job to embrace the role. Even with Jeff (Saturday) coming in and T.J. playing next to him, we take it upon ourselves to do anything we can to help him learn this offense and build that chemistry with the offensive line.” After being off three of the last four days, Lang and Sitton return to the practice field with the rest of their Packers' teammates today at 11:15 a.m. at Nitschke Field. Here are some of our other Sunday news and notes: *Press-Gazette sports editor Mike Vandermause dissects Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and his preference - or lack of preference - in employing a running back by committee approach. During his Friday news conference, McCarthy said the running back's performance dictates which direction the Packers decide to go when running the football. “I’ve never said I preferred the running back by committee,” McCarthy said. “That’s the world that we’re in. To me, running back by committee (or) one guy carries it all the time, the players determine that. I’ve never stood up here, and if I did, correct me, and said that I prefer to do it that way.” As Vandermause goes on to write, McCarthy actually did say last year following the team's Family Night scrimmage that he hoped a tandem backfield would help running backs stay fresh throughout the season. "While McCarthy’s most recent comments seem to directly contradict what he said and did in 2011, there could be a reasonable explanation," Vandermause writes. "What McCarthy seems to be suggesting now is that the committee approach was used out of necessity over the past two years, and that deep down, he prefers having a bell-cow back." *Some of the most valuable players on the Packers' roster will be coming up on contract extensions in the next year or so, including outside linbacker Clay Matthews who told the Press-Gazette's Pete Dougherty he's OK with waiting until the offseason to extend his deal. The Packers undoubtedly will be paying out several huge contracts in the next year or so and Matthews will be among the key players likely to get contract extensions in the relatively near future, along with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, receiver Greg Jennings and defensive lineman B.J. Raji. “I have two years left,” Matthews said, “and if I’ve learned anything being in this organization is they take care of their players (from) the draft. You look at guys like Aaron, Josh Sitton, Nick Collins, Greg Jennings, they take care of their players. I just need to focus on this year and let my agent handle that. As of right now, I’m happy. Also in our Sunday notebook, Rob Demovsky takes a glance at the Packers returning to practice and a look into the mindset of rookie guard Greg Van Roten, who has continued to prove himself as more than just another camp body. -whodkiew@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.

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Get Green Bay Packers updates as they happen from our reporting team: (from left) Mike Vandermause, Wes Hodkiewicz and Pete Dougherty.

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