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Rookie O-linemen could be pressed into action

Nov. 18, 2012
 

DETROIT — The Packers liked Don Barclay and Greg Van Roten from the start, but their preference all along was to let them use their rookie season to develop. If they played at all, it would be only special teams.

To this point, that’s been the case. Barclay has been active for the first nine games but has played only on special teams. Van Roten, who began the season on the practice squad, has been active for the last two games but hasn’t played.

“I think it’s always valuable as a young player to be able to absorb all the things being said in meetings and being able to watch tape and hear veterans talk,” Packers offensive line coach James Campen said. “There’s obviously an advantage to that.”

But the reality is the Packers are one injury away from having to play one of the undrafted rookies today against the Lions after right tackle Bryan Bulaga went on season-ending injured reserve this past week because of his dislocated hip, forcing T.J. Lang to move to right tackle and Evan Dietrich-Smith to go in at Lang’s left guard spot.

Barclay, who played tackle at West Virginia, would be next up. He’s the likely fill in at right tackle and both guard spots. If they needed a left tackle, Lang likely would move over there, and Barclay would play right tackle. If they needed a center, Dietrich-Smith likely would play center and Barclay left guard.

Van Roten, who also played tackle in college at Yale, is being groomed as an interior lineman. He has spent most of his time at center but also can play either guard spot.

“They’re workers,” Campen said of his rookies. “They work hard on the look teams, and that’s what makes you better. They take full advantage of those reps every day. They work extremely hard, they’re smart, they’re not mental-error guys. They’ve been impressive.”

But if they had to play?

“We’re playing our 10th game,” Campen said, “they’ve heard a lot, and I’d be comfortable with them.”

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