O-line room adjusting without Sitton

Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
View Comments

GREEN BAY - Josh Sitton had a big presence in the offensive line meeting room and it may be part of the reason the Green Bay Packers let him go Saturday.

Green Bay Packers guard Josh Sitton looks on from the sideline in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals.

The Packers had to estimate how the environment would change should left tackle David Bakhtiari and center JC Tretter become higher-paid players than Sitton this season and whether there was a big enough drop-off in Sitton’s play to justify releasing him.

Ultimately, they decided a change was needed, leaving a big hole in their offensive line that fourth-year pro Lane Taylor is going to have to fill.

Offensive line coach James Campen may or may not have been involved in the decision, but he was left to figure out how to clear away the emotion and get the remaining players to adjust to a strong personality no longer dominating the room.

“That room is built on a lot of players that help each other, very unselfish,” Campen said Wednesday, addressing the Sitton move for the first time. “That room has been very good with that; they help each other all the way through, new people, older people, (it) never really mattered to that group. I liked it that way.”

Campen had only nice things to say about Sitton, calling him someone who will “always be a special person in my heart.”

RELATED: Packers scoring with 'street' free agents

RELATED: Packers, Jaguars must play guessing game

However, he has left his sentimentality at the meeting room door and has been focused on preparing Taylor and the rest of the group for what should be a stiff challenge in Jacksonville on Sunday.

He downplayed the need to get his linemen focused even though they were still waiting for an explanation from general manager Ted Thompson as to why he cut his starting left guard from a team with Super Bowl ambitions. Campen credited the maturity of his players in finding a way to turn the page.

“We’ve moved on from that now and wish him the very best,” he said of Sitton, who signed with the Chicago Bears on Sunday. “I had an eight-year relationship with him that I enjoyed very much.

“But it’s time to move on. That decision was made and here we are. I’m excited about the opportunity for the next left guard and (we) move on.”

Whether the dynamic changes immediately or gradually, the offensive line is probably going to hit some rough spots with Taylor and his two previous starts moving into the starting lineup.

Sitton played between Bakhtiari and Tretter all training camp and suddenly there’s Taylor, whose strength is blocking in the run game and experience pales in comparison to his predecessor. It’s not ideal to make a switch like that a week before the season opener, but that’s what Campen’s group is going to have to do.

“Very confident that that chemistry will be there,” Campen said. “He (Taylor) has seen everything. He’s been educated to see everything. These guys that are not playing are trained to be starters.

“There’s a job requirement for each five positions on that line. And when your time is up, you’re required to fill that job requirement.”

Peppers prepared

After spending a lot of time on the sideline this summer, outside linebacker Julius Peppers is back.

The decision to take it easy on the 36-year-old Peppers was made so that he could preserve energy for the end of the season. His snaps were supposed to be reduced significantly last year, but defensive coordinator Dom Capers couldn’t get himself to remove Peppers as often as was discussed.

There’s a plan again this year, but nothing is written in stone.

“I like that through the course of the preseason and practices and games obviously we've tried to limit Julius' reps,” Capers said. “Julius is one of those guys that he's going to take every rep on the practice field that he can take. I like where Julius is in terms of starting the season. We'll just have to look from week to week of how many reps we hope to get him."

Cashing out

The Packers reached injury settlements with tight end Kennard Backman and center Jacob Flores.

RELATED: Packers overflowing with return options

Backman, a sixth-round pick by the Packers in 2015, injured his hamstring and knee during the final two weeks of training camp. The knee injury required a minor scope that was performed earlier this week.

Flores, an undrafted free agent from Dartmouth, tore his meniscus early in training camp.

Injury report

Safety Chris Banjo, outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott, cornerback Josh Hawkins and tight end Justin Perillo did not practice Wednesday.

Banjo, Elliott and Hawkins all have hamstring injuries that are likely to sideline them for the season opener against Jacksonville. Perillo has a knee injury suffered during the final exhibition game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Wide receiver Trevor Davis (shoulder) was a limited participant, and wideout Jeff Janis (hand) was a full participant.

For the Jaguars, running back Chris Ivory (calf) and defensive end Jared Odrick (jaw) were limited participants. Defensive tackle Roy Miller (quadricep) was a full participant.

View Comments