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The Packers Most Irreplaceable Starter Not Named Aaron Rodgers

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The Packers Most Irreplaceable Starter Not Named Aaron Rodgers

You know when your favorite NFL team is good – even really good – when fans of the Green Bay Packers start to fret about who the back-ups to the starters will be. 

Packers fans have witnessed first-hand what happens when their superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers gets injured.  It is not pretty.

But other than Aaron Rodgers who would cause the most angst should injury befall them heading into the 2015 season?

There are several candidates.                                                                                                                       

Jordy Nelson is arguably their second best over-all player.  Yet behind him is a stable of very capable receivers in Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery and others.  Should Nelson be side-lined for any length of time it would hurt, but not cripple the Packers.

Clay Matthews?  Surely “The Claymaker” would likewise be missed, but we have witnessed a Matthews-less Packers defense in previous years without collapse.

Matthews missed four games in 2012 with hamstring injuries and five and one-half more in in 2013 with thumb issues.  That year Matthews broke his right thumb on Oct. 6 while sacking Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. The injury, diagnosed as a Bennett's fracture, required surgery to have pins implanted to stabilize the bone.  

The Packers record when Matthews sat out was 3-1 in 2012 and 3-2 in 2013.  The record speaks: with Matthews out for an extended period of time it would hurt but not be devastating.

An Eddie Lacy injury might be overcome with veteran James Starks.  Rajon Neal and rookie John Crockett would also offer alternatives.  And look for Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb to operate from the backfield more this season.  There is also dependable FB John Kuhn. The Packers could overcome a short-term Lacy absence.

In fact there are capable backups – not involving a kicker or punter - at every position save one.  That position is left tackle.

The one player that the Green Bay Packers can least afford to lose to injury, who is not named Aaron Rodgers, is third year pro David Bakhtiari.  

There is just no suitable replacement for him on the current roster without a major shuffle of personnel.

At the end of the 2014 season the official Packers depth chart listed JC Tretter as the backup to Bakhtiari and entering camp this year it is Jeremy Vujnovich.  Tretter is serviceable inside but is not a capable left tackle, and former practice squad player Vujnovich will have a challenge making the final roster.  Another alternative might be Don Barclay who has shown ability on the right side, but not the left. 

Matt Rotheram, an undrafted rookie free agent who has a decent shot at making the team has shown he can play any line position except one.  You guessed it – left tackle. 

Vince Kowalski was just recently added to the team as a left tackle, but how much can you expect from the roster’s 90th ranked player?

Should injury strike the left side for any more than one game, the team would have to strongly consider moving recently re-signed right tackle Bryan Bulaga to the left and fill the right with Barclay or someone else.  Not ideal.

There are still a few veteran free agent left tackles available for hire with no compensation due their former teams should they sign elsewhere. The names include former first-round picks Sam Baker (Atl.) and oft-injured Jake Long (St. L) as well as Anthony Collins (TB).  Ted Thompson would have be desperate indeed to seriously consider any of these alternatives.

It appears that the Packers General Manager is content to enter the season with the players presently on his roster.  The team is young yet experienced, talented, and as I mentioned previously, deep at most positions.

Fans of the Green Bay Packers will just have to hope that the team replicates their favorable 2014 injury-reduced season – minus the A-Rod injury. 

Simply put Aaron Rodgers of all players must avoid serious injury.   

Packers fans must also hope that a shuffle of the offensive line due to a Bakhtiari injury remains only a concern and not a reality.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (18) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

At first a misread the to headline to say...

"The Packers Most Irreplaceable Starter Is Not Named Aaron Rodgers".

Jeff Hayes's picture

Bulaga would move back to LT and Tretter would take over the RT spot so if David went down while being a hardship it still would not be a crippling effect to the team!

Oppy's picture

I think it would be Barclay as opposed to Tretter.

JC Tretter still has no real NFL experience and was groomed to be a center or guard. Barclay has starting experience at both guard and tackle positions.

RCPackerFan's picture

On offense a case could be made for a lot of players. But I would have to agree that Bakhtiari is the one they can least afford to lose on offense. McCarthy's offense runs the best when he has a strong OL. And there really isn't a clear cut backup at LT. G and RT we have Tretter and Barclay that can play. But LT? I guess either insert Barclay or Tretter at RT and move Bulaga to LT?

On defense, I think the player they can least afford to lose is Sam Shields. While I like their young CB's, if they lost Shields it would make the CB's very inexperienced.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Where's Stroh or Danny or whatever he went by. I vividly remember debating w/him over Bahk's talent. Even as a rookie we were barely hearing his name (which is a good thing for O-Linemen). I absolutely agree with this article.

omega's picture

What about Sitton? I'm not saying do it, I'm asking for opinions on if he could handle LT short term, with a fill in on the inside. Maybe he doesn't look the part of a tackle, but he is easily the best lineman on the team.

sonomaca's picture

Anthony Collins, last year's $30 million man, might actually be a decent backup at left tackle.

Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

If Bak goes down we simply run an unbalanced line, put Barclay on the right where he is comfortable and hand the rock to Lacy before Rodgers gets killed from behind. Lacy runs for 350 behind our bulldozer line...all to the right.

Idiot Fan's picture

I'm not saying I necessarily disagree, but in 2011, didn't we go 15-1 with LT covered by Chad Clifton's corpse and Marshall Newhouse? I would take Bulaga at LT and Barclay at RT any day over that. I think we could probably survive one hit to the OL, but not more than that. Personally I would still hate to lose Clay more. And possibly Shields.

But I still reserve the right to swear when DBak breaks his leg on Family Night.

sonomaca's picture

The Packer didn't pick a LT in the draft. Perhaps they like Vujnovich more than we think.

Tundraboy's picture

The forgotten man . Played well and if he brings depth we are set save for injuries of course, Still better than Newhouse and Sherrod days.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Injuries are always difficult to overcome. In order:
Shields: No other experienced outside CB on the roster;
Daniels: Our only good defensive lineman (Others TBD);
CM3: Versatility and big play potential are too important.
Bakh: flipping Bulaga over might work. IIRC, Bulaga has not played (any? few?) NFL games at LT.
Lacy: No one else like him - only complete back we have.

packsmack's picture

Kiss of death

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I recall the McGinn article about how prepared the Packers were for Rodgers missing time.

Portland Mark's picture

In 2012 and 2014 the Packers let a 16 point lead get away. While some fluke plays were involved, both times Clay Mathews had to leave the game. If he had been able to stay in, I believe they would've beaten Seattle last year and would've won in Cincinnati in 2012, which would have given them a first round bye that season. It Mathews was also out for a lot 2013 when the defense had their worst year in memory. It seems to me that he is the most irreplaceable player.

Chad Lundberg's picture

"Should injury strike the left side for any more than one game, the team would have to strongly consider moving recently re-signed right tackle Bryan Bulaga to the left and fill the right with Barclay or someone else. Not ideal."

Are you saying this would be bad or just not ideal? Because honestly I don't think it's that big of a drop off.

tm_inter's picture

Surely Bulaga can play LT. He used to play LT in college. I don't see any problem if Bakh goes down. Losing Lacy or Clay Matthews is more serious IMO.

bill from jersey pkfn12n4's picture

SHHHHHHHHSH.......NOT GONNA HAPPEN.......STOP

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