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Rookie Andrew Datko Gets Time with Starters at Packers OTAs

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Rookie Andrew Datko Gets Time with Starters at Packers OTAs

Rookie offensive lineman Andrew Datko was given an opportunity on Wednesday not often afforded to seventh-round draft choices.

Datko reportedly got playing time with the first-string offense at the Green Bay Packers' organized team activity (OTA) this week.

Not that Datko isn't deserving, but the stars had to align properly for the Florida State product to get such a chance.

With head coach Mike McCarthy intent on keeping Bryan Bulaga at right tackle this offseason, that was one competitor out of the way.

Then after practicing the week before, presumed starter Marshall Newhouse sat out of Wednesday's session. McCarthy refuses to delve into injuries during voluntary OTAs, but didn't seem overly concerned about the status of Newhouse.

"We don't do injury reports, but he's here," said McCarthy. "He's here working and working out in the weight room and in meetings."

Last year's first-round draft choice Derek Sherrod, meanwhile, hasn't taken part in any of the team's offseason program after breaking his leg late last season, and his future with the team in 2012 hinges on his recovery.

That left veteran journeyman Herb Taylor as the de facto starter at left tackle during Wednesday's practice, but Datko also received the opportunity to protect Aaron Rodgers' backside on a rotational basis.

Expecting Datko to win the starter's job might be unrealistic, at least in his rookie season, but he couldn't have been given a better break so early in his first professional season.

On one hand, Datko could have the talent to surprise, earn a job on the 53-man roster and earn playing time down the road. On the other hand, he must overcome the shoulder injuries that have plagued him since his high school days and become a consistent player.

A pair of observations from CBS Sports Rapid Reports correspondent James Carlton at practice this week regarding Datko were illuminating and also typified the ups and downs of a rookie finding his way through his the rigors of the NFL.

First...

Then...

No one expects Datko to be perfect early in his career. He can only soak up the instruction and improve each and every day.

It's up to him to take advantage of the situation he finds himself in, and if he does, it's possible the Packers could reap the rewards of hitting on a late-round draft pick.

The more versatile Datko can be, the better. And it only helps that the Packers have had success selecting college tackles and turning them into NFL guards.

"When you break down college film, I think it's obvious that the athletic ability required to play tackle is something that we're attracted to," said McCarthy on Wednesday. "The ability to come into our system, to our program and have the ability to go tackle and move to guard, we've done that continuously in my time here."

For right now, it appears Datko is focusing on left tackle. But when the Packers only keep seven or eight offensive linemen active on game day, it's imperative all of them play more than one position.

So long as Datko acts upon the coaching he gets, he'll be in a good position to contribute to the Packers.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (14) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PackersRS's picture

I think the Packers have only drafted OTs since TT came in. IIRC not a single guard or center.

aussiepacker's picture

They drafted caleb schlauderaff last year in the 6th round. He was a four year starter at LG for utah.

Jamie's picture

Spitz was a guard/center at Louisville, but in general tackles have been the majority.

Nerd's Laptop's picture

Datko could be the steal of the draft.

Jadaway's picture

Prior to his injury Datko was being projected to be a 1st rounder. His jr year at FSU he only allowed one sack all year and it was in the bowl game after having his bell rung. If he can shake the shoulder issue he could be a stud.

redlights's picture

Unless Sherrod totally blows up in camp or goes IR, he'll make the team. Too much potential in a 1st rounder to cut the cord this soon.

Look for Domiguez (sp?) or Datko at left guard next year. Lang will get a better FA offer than Colledge and the Pack won't match.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Lang's not going anywhere.

aussiepacker's picture

Agreed, Lang seems like the kind of guy that would take less money to stay in Green Bay. He really seems like he is happy where he is? I could see him still get a good 4yr contract and not even test free agency?

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

That's the way I see it playing out Aussie... He never gets on the market.

cpheph1's picture

I concur with y'all. The Packers have...~$12m remaining 2012 cap. That's a considerable amount of $$ they can reinvest in players. 2012 is also Jennings' finals season under contract.

redlights's picture

So the point here is Jennings alone will take up most of the $12 million; next year its CMIII and Rodgers.

I won't be buying Lang jersey's, though I think he's a solid player.

Oppy's picture

Hey, guys, when talking cap, it's not like you have to play a player in full with the money you have available the season you resign them.

There's all kinds of games they employ to shift and shimmy the effects of the cap hit from one year to the next, or spread it out all over.

THe Packers have a long-term cap assessment on paper somewhere; they probably have a pretty good idea how they are going to work the big, obvious contracts out.. It's the players that come out of nowhere and take the field by storm that are likely to throw a wrench in their finances, not guys like CMIII, Rodgers, or Jennings.

Oppy's picture

I think Datko would be too lanky to play interior very well. Just my opinion, he's a tackle or nothing.

Lucky953's picture

I just hope Lang is good, but not "pro bowl" good because a team can't pay everyone. You might have one, or rarely two offensive linemen who are "core" players, but for the Packers it will continue to be draft,develop and let other teams shell out the big contracts the best of these guys tend to get in their 5th year.

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