Offensive line hitting its stride
James Campen was in the dark like everyone else.
It wasn't until Thursday's unveiling of the trailer for upcoming movie, Pitch Perfect 2, the Green Bay Packers offensive line coach found out about David Bakhtiari, T.J. Lang, Josh Sitton and Don Barclay's involvement in Universal film, scheduled to hit theaters in May 2015.
What Campen does know is what he sees on the field. Since the bye week, what's stood out to him is the clean play of his offensive line, which hasn't allowed a sack in its last two games.
Admittedly, the offensive line wanted to be more consistent in the second half of the season. Players and coaches alike regularly spoke about the need to string solid performances together in back-to-back games.
It's been made difficult with three veterans – Bryan Bulaga (knee), Sitton (toe) and Lang (ankle) – playing through injury at various parts of the season, but the line seems to have hit its stride, particularly in Sunday's 53-20 win over Philadelphia when it contained one of the NFL's leaders in sacks.
"I think they've handled it pretty well," Campen said. "Hey look, it's the NFL. Whoever is in a position has to perform. I think there's been some rocky spots like anything else, bt the important thing is they're growing and learning from them. Sometimes you have to change the spot and move a guy here there, wherever. They've done a good job with that."
The line has played through its share of bumps and bruises. It also lost swing tackle Don Barclay to a torn ACL in August, but the expectations haven't changed. Fortunately, some of its luck has. Since center Corey Linsley took over for an injured JC Tretter (knee) at the end of training camp, the starting offensive line has combined for only one missed game.
The job doesn't get much easier this Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. First-year head coach Mike Zimmer's defense is tied for third in the NFL for most sacks (30) with defensive end Everson Griffen tied for eighth for most individually (nine).
The Packers gave up two sacks in last month's 42-10 win over Lambeau Field and have allowed 22 on the season. It puts Aaron Rodgers on pace to be sacked 34 times this season, which would be the second fewest he's had in a single season during his seven years as a starter.
Rodgers took time to praise the entire unit during his ESPN Wisconsin radio show this week, commending Lang and Sitton for how they've performed on limited practice reps the past two weeks. Both guards were limited Thursday after sitting out of Wednesday's practice.
Although the linemen picked up an intriguing opportunity with their film deal, they've been performing pretty well with their day job, as well.
"We've all been playing at a very high level," Bakhtiari said. "But the fact that we've all really been playing together and continuing to grow week in and week out, I think it's a mix between everything. Not just us as a unit, but the quarterback being in sync with the offensive line. The wide receivers, timing and everything, and Aaron has become more comfortable with moving around, I think."
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