PITTSBURGH – Don Barclay didn’t do much to assuage the Packers’ concerns about his recovery from knee-reconstruction surgery or their depth at tackle.
Barclay, who is coming back from a torn ACL in training camp last year, started at left tackle for the Packers on Sunday in place of David Bakhtiari, who didn’t make the trip because of a sore knee.
It was Barclay’s first game action at left tackle — he’s been a right tackle and guard his entire career with the Packers until practicing at left tackle last week. For all of camp it’s been clear he’s not back at full strength, and Sunday he had a bad game playing the most difficult position on the offensive line.
In the first half against the Steelers, Barclay gave up two sacks against the Steelers, and on another passing play had a holding penalty. One of the sacks was by outside linebacker James Harrison for a safety, a play on which quarterback Aaron Rodgers injured his right hand or wrist. On the other, outside linebacker Jarvis Jones bull rushed back a couple yards, then beat him inside.
“(Barclay) is coming back from a tough injury and he’s playing left tackle, which he played in college,” Rodgers said. “Don’s going to be more of a right tackle and a backup guard for us and a guy we can really count on. He’s played a lot of snaps for us over the years. He’s started a playoff game. He’s a guy we can count on.
“We have a lot of confidence in Donnie. This is just his progression back into feeling comfortable. I know coming back from an ACL, it takes a while to really feel comfortable. He’s still wearing a brace. I couldn’t mentally. I had to take my brace off five months into it because I just didn’t feel comfortable with that on. He’s still working through that.”
It’s unclear how long Bakhtiari will be out, though there are no signs his injury is long-term. Among the Packers’ other options while he’s sidelined are to move Bryan Bulaga from right tackle to left, and play Barclay or Josh Walker at right tackle. Also, Walker took a few snaps at left tackle with the backups Sunday. And Jeremy Vujnovich, who spent last season on the Packers’ practice squad, has worked as the left tackle with the No. 3 offense all camp.
“Whenever you’re injured it’s always tough,” Barclay said, “especially missing the whole season. You always want to be there and contribute for your teammates. It’s just something that you have to battle through. It’s a bump in the road. You just have to get back individually.”