After a grueling few weeks of training camp, Mike McCarthy has finally found an offensive line he is comfortable with for the 2009 season. The new line features new starters at three of the five situations, with the entire right side of the line being new. Jason Spitz beat out Scott Wells for the center job, Josh Sitton earned the right guard position, and Allen Barbre winds out the line at right tackle.
The battle between Spitz and Wells was one of the closest watched in camp. Both players have started games for the Packers over the last few years and both have something to bring to the table. However, Wells was hurt for much of 2008 and didn’t match Spitz’s improvement.
McCarthy had this to say about Wells:
“Scott’s a professional,” said McCarthy. “I didn’t expect him to be excited about it, and he was not. He had a few questions, I answered them very honestly and he understands why we made that move.”
Spitz commented on the move:
“I’ve always had aspirations of being a great center,” Spitz said. “Things are slowing down for me at center. Obviously, I spent a lot of time playing center in the off-season.”
“No one is happy when they are not playing.”
Barbre beat out 2008 draft pick Breno Giacomini, in a battle between two guys who have never started in the NFL. However, the left side of Chad Clifton and Darryn Colledge is very experienced which balances the line in terms of experience.
The Packers are really excited about having Sitton on the starting O-line:
“Josh Sitton earned a starting position at guard last year and lost that due to injury,” said McCarthy. “We felt that he has improved. He’s a physical player on that right side, and that’s probably the reason why we did go with him.”
Sitton is obviously excited as well:
“I’ve got to strive to get better on fundamentals, the small things,” said Sitton. “It’s gratifying. I’m happy for the opportunity to get out and show what I can do. I’m going to take this opportunity and run with it.”
Now the unit can focus on cohesion and opening up holes for Ryan Grant and protecting Aaron Rodgers. The offensive line was weak in 2008, and it needs to perform for the Packers to get back to the playoffs.