McCarthy: Taylor will replace Sitton at LG

Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Packers left guard Lane Taylor

GREEN BAY - Lane Taylor is a backup no more.

On Monday, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy named Taylor as departed left guard Josh Sitton's replacement, saying he had total confidence in the fourth-year pro.

"I have all the confidence in the world in Lane," McCarthy said "He’s earned this opportunity. I think he’s done a very good job particularly in the run blocking phase of his game. The pass protection and some of the things — particularly how we do it and what we do — is something he just needs some game experience at.

"That’s part of the leap when you make changes. But with that, it’s an opportunity to grow."

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Taylor avoided becoming a restricted free agent in March by signing a two-year, $4.125 million deal that included a $600,000 signing bonus.

He replaces Sitton, who was released on Sunday in a surprising move. Sitton became a free agent immediately and signed a three-year, $21.5 million deal with the Chicago Bears Sunday night. The contract included a $10 million signing bonus.

"Any time you make a decision like this in the case of Josh — Josh obviously played a lot of excellent football here for the Packers," McCarthy said. "We enjoyed a lot of success together over the last eight years. But with that, there’s a lot of things that go into this decision. This wasn’t just one thing.

"With that, it was tough. It was great to see him actually get an opportunity so quick and continue to reach the goals that he wants to attain. Tough decision, but with that we’re preparing and getting ready for Jacksonville."

Taylor had three penalties in the exhibition finale against Kansas City and also appeared to give up several pressures. McCarthy defended Taylor, however, and said his performance was not as spotty as it looked.

"I think like all things you’ve got to look at the video. I understand it’s the preseason, and it’s preseason for the officials, too," McCarthy said of the penalties. "I was very confident in how he played in that game. I thought he was physical and did a lot of good things. And frankly, he did some things that he needs to improve on."

McCarthy said Taylor's play in the running game has stood out and he believes he will provide the Packers with a physical presence inside.

However, the big question will be whether he can hold up in pass protection the way Sitton, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, has over the years. Over his eight years, seven as a starter, Sitton has been almost impenetrable, especially the last three years when he has allowed just 2 1/2 sacks while playing guard.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been able to drop back without much worry that a player will get a free run at him from where Sitton was lining up and now it will be Taylor's responsibility to provide that same sort of protection. Taylor has started just two games and in the last two seasons has played just 281 snaps.

"Lane Taylor, he’s ready," McCarthy said. "He’s prepared for this, he’s been here, he’s played in real games, I think it’s two starts or whatever it is. But hey, we have all the confidence in the world in Lane and really our offensive line group.

"You look at how Donnie Barclay has played, I think JC Tretter has had probably one of the best training camps, clearly his best training camp since he’s been here. You’ve got young guys coming on and we’ll be ready to go."

One fall back option the Packers might have later in the season is using Tretter at guard. McCarthy said that center Corey Linsley, who was placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list with a hamstring injury he aggravated coming into training camp, looks to be on track for a return. Under PUP rules, the earliest he can return is Week 7.

"It’s been very frustrating for him, particularly training camp, reinjuring the hamstring, the timing of it," McCarthy said. "So, anytime you have an injury and you do it again, you have to take the long road back. And that’s really what we’re doing with him.

"So the timeline is what it is as far as the PUP rules, but this is the best thing for him and I’m confident once we get past that threshold of six weeks, he’ll be ready to go."

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