It took six weeks, but the Green Bay Packers finally added an eighth offensive lineman to the active roster this past week with the promotion of rookie guard Greg Van Roten from the practice squad.
The Packers have been high on the 6-foot-3, 303-pound Roten since they signed the former University of Pennsylvania standout the day before the start of training camp in July.
Still, Van Roten had to earn his keep, spending the first month-and-a-half of the 2012 season on the practice squad. Meanwhile, the Packers made the unorthodox move to start the season with only two reserves on the roster at the position - guard-center Evan Dietrich-Smith and rookie Don Barclay.
Van Roten started all 30 games for the Quakers over his final three seasons at Penn, but since arriving in Green Bay has had to make the move from an undersized college left tackle to the interior line.
“He’s done a really good job of just learning,” Packers offensive line coach James Campen said. “He’s deserving of the opportunity. He still has a ways to go, as everyone does, but he’s a fast learner, a very smart kid. He doesn’t make mental errors and just getting his techniques down. You have remember, he was a left tackle. Now, he’s playing guard and nose tackle things, so it’s important for him to keep growing, fundamentally.”
With the promotion, Van Roten agreed to a three-year deal worth a league minimum $1.4 million and will earn the prorated portion of a $390,000 rookie salary for however long he remains on the team’s active roster.
For now, those prospects appears promising as there’s still no telling when or if second-year tackle Derek Sherrod will be ready to return from the physically unable to perform list this season.
The Packers’ first-round pick last season is still recovering from broken leg he suffered against Kansas City last December and has still yet to practice. Of the team’s three players on PUP, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Sherrod is the furthest away from returning to the field.
In the meantime, the opportunity is there for Van Roten and fellow undrafted rookie Barclay to cement themselves behind the Packers’ starting offensive line. Both players played tackle in college and have made the transition to guard during their time with the Packers.
“Everything is on you quicker, that’s an adjustment tackles have to make to go into guard,” Campen said. “That’s a big one for kids because it’s hard for them to initially just pick that up and start punching and stepping differently, and things are on you quicker. Pad level becomes a major priority, but (Greg)’s doing a good job of adjusting to those.”
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