Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga says with a little prep time he could fill in at left tackle. Kyle Bursaw/Press-Gazette Media
The Packers might have to test their potentially shaky depth at tackle in this week's preseason game at Pittsburgh.
Starting left tackle David Bakhtiari hasn’t practiced since last week’s game at New England because of a sore knee, and coach Mike McCarthy on Monday said Bakhtiari “is going to take a couple more days, at least,” in his treatment program.
The Packers' No. 3 tackle is Don Barclay, who still doesn't appear to be at full strength in his recovery from knee-reconstruction surgery last year. But if Bakhtiari needs to rest his knee on Sunday at Pittsburgh, Barclay presumably will be in the starting lineup, and McCarthy will have to decide whether that will be on the right or left side.
Barclay has been working at left tackle in Bakhtiari's place with the No. 1 offense in practice this week, but he's rarely if ever practiced there in the past-- he's been a right and guard. But Bryan Bulaga, the starter at right tackle, could move to left tackle -- the Packers drafted him in the first round in 2010 to play that position -- and Barclay could fill in for him on the right side. Barclay's 21 NFL starts (playoffs included) all have been at right tackle.
The point will be moot if Bakhtiari returns later this week. But McCarthy at least is looking at Barclay on the left side early this week.
“It’s good for Donnie,” McCarthy said. “I think any time you get reps there – obviously we have other options. I think you really have to look at where we are. We’re entering our second preseason week of training camp. You want to continue to create opportunities for players to increase their value. You do that by giving guys opportunities. That’s not different for Donnie Barclay. I know Bryan Bulaga can play left tackle. That’s something that we practice all the time. This is an opportunity for players to increase their value.”
The Packers' other options at backup tackle are Josh Walker, who's played more at guard in camp; Jeremy Vunjnovich, who spent all last season on the Packers' practice squad; and undrafted rookie Vince Kowalski.
Bulaga said he hasn’t had any indication he could be moving to the left side for Sunday.
“No matter which way you’re switching, if you’re going left-to-right at guard or tackle, I think you need a little time adjusting,” Bulaga said. “Again, I just play where they tell me to play. I don’t know what Dave’s situation for this week is. I really don’t. All I’ve been told is that I’m playing right tackle this week.”