Not only did the Green Bay Packers’ offense have to adjust without Aaron Rodgers on Monday night against Chicago, it had to adjust with a new right side of the offensive line.
Right guard T.J. Lang was sidelined for the second half against Chicago with a concussion. He hasn’t practiced this week, and while he’s improving, there’s no certainty he’ll be ready to play on Sunday against Philadelphia.
If Lang can’t go, the Packers would use the same right side they used against Chicago, with right tackle Don Barclay replacing Lang at guard and Marshall Newhouse stepping in at right tackle.
“Like always, when you have a full week of work, that’s going to transition to be better on the field,” offensive line coach James Campen said on Thursday. “I expect them both to play better. I think with the more practice reps and familiarity at each position would only benefit them.”
Neither Barclay nor Newhouse were happy with their second-half performances. On third-and-3 from the Chicago 40 in the fourth quarter, Newhouse gave up immediate pressure to Shea McClellin, which resulted in a sack. On the final series of the game, Barclay and Newhouse gave up sacks to end the game.
“I think it went OK,” Newhouse said. “There’s a couple plays there at the end that you wish would have gone better, especially at crunch time, but overall I think I played OK.”
Added Campen: “He was OK … he was pretty good in the run game. He had just one run that wasn’t up to par. He has to be better in protection. It has nothing to do with his sets or his fundamentals. He has to finish better. He knows that and he’ll be better if he’s called upon to play.”
Barclay anticipates a week at guard will put him in better position, as well.
“I think a week of practicing the footwork, the looks and everything, I’ll be more prepared,” he said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen yet. It’s up in the air so just preparing for what’s going to happen both ways.”
Packers injury report
Did not participate: G T.J. Lang (concussion), QB Aaron Rodgers (collarbone). Limited: OLB Clay Matthews (thumb), OLB Andy Mulumba (ankle), OLB Mike Neal (knee), OLB Nick Perry (foot), DT Ryan Pickett (knee).
Neal was added to the list, but McCarthy said it was a matter of “being smart” with a player who has taken a lot of reps with Matthews and Perry out of the lineup.
Eagles injury report
Did not participate: LB Jake Knott (hamstring). Limited: CB Bradley Fletcher (pectoral), QB Michael Vick (hamstring). Full: CB Roc Carmichael (groin), S Patrick Chung (shoulder), WR Riley Cooper (illness), WR Damaris Johnson (ankle), LB Mychal Kendricks (ankle), T Jason Peters (pectoral/shoulder), RB Chris Polk (shoulder/knee), DE Cedric Thornton (knee), G Julian Vandervelde (knee).
-- The training staff and Clay Matthews continue to work on tailoring the club-cast he’ll use on his surgically repaired thumb. “I feel like in my position, obviously, you need to have great hands and, when you take one away, it definitely hinders your game a little bit,” Matthews said. “You just try to use it as much as you can (as) a normal hand, sticking it in there and being comfortable with it. I'm more comfortable than I was (Wednesday) but I need to continue to be able to stick it in there a little bit more, become OK with using a club. We'll take it day-by-day, but it's getting better.”
-- The challenge for coach Mike McCarthy is to get Seneca Wallace ready to play quarterback but also get ready Scott Tolzien, who was promoted from the practice squad on Wednesday and has almost no experience running Green Bay’s playbook. “Oh, yeah, we thought about it, too. It’s tough on a short week because you only have so many reps. So, I really wanted to see Seneca operate the offense today, primarily going through the base, the third down and the red zone. (Friday) we put in short yardage, goal line, four-minute and backed up. So it’ll be important for him to run that. But we need to get Scott involved in the drives and give him a little bit, too, because you have to make sure your No. 2’s ready.”
-- The Packers could go to a grind-it-out, milk-the-clock approach to playing offense. That’s not McCarthy’s style, though: “It’s about time of possession. Do you want to do that running 50 plays, or would you rather do it at a successful rate running 75? It’s a matter of opinion, a matter of philosophy. I’d rather have the ball and win the time of possession with more plays because of the ability of our players.”
-- With Rodgers’ injury, the Packers are 14/1 to win the Super Bowl, according to odds released on Thursday by online bookmaker Bovada. They were 9/1 last week. Denver is the favorite at 10/3. Green Bay is a slight favorite to win the NFC North at 5/4, followed by Detroit at 7/4 and Chicago at 11/5. Also, the over/under for Wallace is 225.5 passing yards, 1.5 touchdowns and 0.5 interceptions.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.