PHOENIX — The Green Bay Packers plan to focus on improving the left side of their offensive line.
From the center on over, coach Mike McCarthy said improvements must be made.
Though he didn’t reveal how he planned to remedy it, he said it will be one of the focal points for the offense this offseason.
“If you’re breaking down the line as a whole, our left side and the center position, we need improvement there,” McCarthy said. “I thought (right guard) Josh Sitton probably had his best year. And frankly, (Bryan) Bulaga and (Don) Barclay at right tackle with Josh was, we felt, a good combination. We need to get the left side to play better.”
Part of it could depend on the health of tackle Derek Sherrod, the 2011 first-round pick who missed all of last season because of a broken leg. If healthy, Sherrod could compete with Marshall Newhouse, who started all 16 games at left tackle last season. The Packers also could move Bulaga to the left side, although it’s something they have always resisted.
“Well, the one thing about Marshall, you go back through the grades, Marshall played OK,” McCarthy said.
Barring injuries or an unexpected drop off in performance, the Packers will start T.J. Lang at left guard and Evan Dietrich-Smith at center. Lang held up well at guard but struggled when he had to move to tackle because of injuries. Dietrich-Smith replaced Jeff Saturday as the starting center in Week 16.
“I feel good about Evan,” McCarthy said. “Evan’s been (in Green Bay all offseason). I think it says a lot about him and his commitment. I felt the way we finished the season, he had segments of games that he didn’t play as well as he should have, but I felt his overall work was definitely something that we can build with and go with. (He) brought a high tempo to the position. I was very pleased with the way Evan played. Even going through our studies, we had a particular study with our offensive line that broke it down into four groups: the group that started the season, the group after Bulaga was hurt … Lang and then when Dietrich was there at guard and then the last group. The production of the last group we felt performed the best, and that’s a credit to Dietrich.”