One item of Packers news that flew under the radar from Thursday’s practice is this from Pat Mayo, the sports producer at the ABC affiliate in Green Bay:
I know it was just Oline/Dline drills but Don Barclay not taking snaps. First it was Newhouse then Sherrod
— Pat Mayo-ABC (@patmayo) October 24, 2013
It’s difficult to say how much stock to put into one drill from practice, but the reality is that Packers right tackle Don Barclay has not been playing very good football of late.
Even though Barclay hasn’t done a very good job protecting the quarterback in recent games, it’s unlikely the Packers would make a change in the makeup of their offensive line, at least for the time being.
Even so, Barclay would be advised to clean up his act, because the Packers have other options at right tackle.
Thanks to good health along the offensive line, Marshall Newhouse hasn’t been needed this season apart from the occasional special teams duty, but he’s available at a moment’s notice.
Granted, Newhouse hasn’t exactly provided stellar protection for Aaron Rodgers the past two seasons either, responsible for allowing nine sacks in each of 2011 and 2012, according to ProFootballFocus.com. But Newhouse does at least provide a veteran’s experience.
Perhaps the more intriguing option is Derek Sherrod, who’s attempting to come back from a broken leg suffered 22 months ago.
Sherrod is currently in the midst of his second week of practice since being placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list to open the season, but indications are the former first round draft choice will finally return to action at some point in the near future.
“I think it’s promising,” said head coach Mike McCarthy of Sherrod. “It’s definitely much better than it was when the season started. I think he clearly has moved past the just the mobility part of it that you originally had some concerns. He needs the padded work, the time you usually get in training camp. He’s doing some extra drill work and things like that, and we’re trying to get him as acclimated as possible.”
The Packers decided to practice without pads this week, so Sherrod missed out on an opportunity to prepare in an environment that most closely resembles that of an actual game, but he remains on the comeback trail.
Sherrod has one more week of practice before the Packers must decide his fate, either by elevating him to the 53-man roster, placing him on season-ending injured reserve or releasing him. The latest the Packers have to make that decision is following the Bears game in Week 9, but can also do so at any point before then.
One way to make room for Sherrod on the roster would be to place tight end Jermichael Finley on injured reserve after he suffered a serious neck injury against the Cleveland Browns last Sunday. But the future will tell what the Packers ultimately decide on both Finley and Sherrod.
What’s so disappointing about Barclay is that he began the season so well, earning positive grades from Pro Football Focus in each of the first three games of the season.
Since that time, he’s followed up with consecutive negative grades in each of the past three games.
Barclay’s performance has been particularly poor the past two games, giving up two sacks in Week 6 at the Baltimore Ravens and four quarterback hurries to the Cleveland Browns this past Sunday.
Priority No. 1 in Green Bay is to protect the face of the franchise, the organization’s $110 million investment. If Barclay can’t do a better job of keep Rodgers clean, the Packers will be forced to find someone that will.
To his credit, Barclay has done an admirable job since taking over the starting right tackle position late last season, but he’s got to turn things around to keep his competitors from breathing down his neck.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book “It’s Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America,” and editor of Cheesehead TV’s “Pro Football Draft Preview.” To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.