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Packers insider: Thumbs up to Bakhtiari, down to ball handling issues

Aug. 1, 2013
 

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Green Bay Packers tackle David Bakhtiari stretches during training camp practice Friday at Ray Nitschke Field. / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media

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Thumbs up

In a week of training camp, rookie David Bakhtiari has worked his way into the running for the starting job at right tackle. The fourth-round draft pick has been one of the young standouts in training camp working as a backup at left and right tackle. Until Thursday, he’d been the left tackle with the No. 2 offensive line and right tackle with the No. 3s. But that flip-flopped Thursday, and Bakhtiari even took one snap at right tackle with the No. 1 offense on a goal-line play near the end of practice. “He’s clearly one of the guys that has made a step in the padded work,” coach Mike McCarthy said this week. Marshall Newhouse remains the front-runner for the starting job in what had been a two-man competition with Don Barclay. Newhouse has taken the majority of the snaps with the starters each day, and Barclay had been getting the rest. Those reps are based on day-to-day performance, so Newhouse has held his lead through a week of camp. But Bakhtiari has climbed fast and has about a month to make a run. Offensive line coach James Campen said Bakhtiari hasn’t had any mental errors so far in camp. “If they’re earning the reps you give ’em the reps,” Campen said.

Thumbs down

Barclay is versatile enough that the Packers are playing him at every position from center to right tackle, but if he’s going to be a viable backup center he can’t roll any more shotgun snaps. Earlier in the week Barclay rolled one during a team period, and then on Thursday he did it twice more, both in a red-zone period. Barclay, who only started playing center this offseason, now has botched five snaps in camp, though McCarthy absolved him of back-to-back fumbled exchanges with quarterback Aaron Rodgers under center on Sunday because of the difficulty of the play call that early in camp. No more. “When the ball is on the ground that much it’s very disruptive to the practice,” McCarthy said, “and also, that’s how you lose football games.” Barclay said that on both rolled snaps Thursday he rushed to snap the ball and then tried to stop when he realized the quarterback (Graham Harrell both times) was delaying his cadence to take a longer look at the defense. “I was kind of leaning back and snapped it earlier than we wanted to,” Barclay said. The rolled snaps were part of an unusually bad day for ball mishandling on offense. On another red-zone play, quarterback B.J. Coleman and running back James Starks whiffed on a pitch out. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like that,” McCarthy said of the clean miss. Coleman took responsibility and said he rushed the toss and missed his target. “I still haven’t seen the film yet, I have to take a look at it,” Coleman said shortly after practice. “James was at the right spot, I just have to hit him.” After practice McCarthy had the team do an extra period of ball handling, with the offensive linemen performing shotgun snaps.

Did you notice?

Lloyce Means, signed off the street this offseason, worked as the slot cornerback Thursday in the No. 1 nickel. With cornerbacks Tramon Williams (knee) and Casey Hayward (hamstring) out because of injuries, rookie Micah Hyde worked as the starter opposite Sam Shields. Means then played as the third cornerback in the nickel, ahead of third-year pro Davon House. Thursday was House’s third practice after his return from food poisoning and an ear infection, and McCarthy might have limited his work to avoid a fatigue injury.

pdougher@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @PeteDougherty.

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