GREEN BAY – Either pleased with the development of young offensive linemen Justin McCray and Lucas Patrick or wary that the injured ankle he suffered in training camp was not progressing, the Green Bay Packers have decided to part ways with veteran Don Barclay.
The team announced it had released Barclay off injured reserve Tuesday just a week before he was going to become eligible to come off the list.
The Packers also announced they signed wide receiver Max McCaffrey to their practice squad. McCaffrey. who spent training camp with the Packers, was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday after catching one pass for 4 yards in five games.
If the Packers were intent on bringing Barclay back, they could have practiced him last week, but the fact they didn’t showed either Barclay wasn’t ready or the Packers just didn’t want him.
Earlier in the year, when they were decimated by injuries on the offensive line, the Packers might have had thoughts about bringing Barclay back. But after McCray filled in admirably at both tackle spots and left guard, it became apparent he was their top utility man.
McCray spent time at center in training camp and would start there if anything happened to Corey Linsley. McCray has played 317 of 450 offensive snaps this season and has not disappointed the coaches despite it being his first NFL action.
In addition, Patrick started a game at left guard and did about as well as the Packers could expect given it was his first NFL snaps. Patrick also can play center, so the Packers have all five positions of their offensive line covered if there is an injury.
The Packers could be at full strength on the offensive line when they return from the bye next week. Only left guard Lane Taylor was missing from the starting lineup Sunday and he was close to being able to play against the New Orleans Saints.
Barclay came into the league as a tackle, but other than his rookie year when he was thrust into action as a starter on the right side, he was not reliable. He began playing more at guard and eventually center, where it appeared he might have a shot to back up Linsley.
But he injured his ankle in the first exhibition game in August and was put on injured reserve when the team made its cut to 53.
Barclay played in 62 regular-season games with 24 starts for the Packers after signing out of West Virginia as an undrafted free agent in 2012. He missed the 2014 season with a torn ACL.
McCaffrey originally joined the Packers as a member of their practice squad Dec. 20, 2016, and was added to the active roster for the NFC Championship game, although he did not play.
McCaffrey spent a week on the Saints’ practice squad after the Packers released him on the cut to 53 and before the Jaguars signed him to their active roster.
He replaces safety Jermaine Whitehead on the practice squad. Whitehead was signed to the 53-man roster Saturday.