When Marshall Newhouse was escorted off the Lambeau Field turf by Green Bay Packers’ medical personnel near the end of the team’s scrimmage Friday night, it wasn’t a good sight.
While the Packers’ offensive line starters, from left to right, are solid, any kind of injury to any of them places the team in jeopardy. When Newhouse went down, the Packers had to reach deep into the bench for replacements. Yes, it’s only the first week of Training Camp and it’s certainly not time to roll into panic mode, but the depth on the line must be recognized.
Behind Marshall is last year’s first round draft choice, Derek Sherrod, who has been a project and is coming back from a broken leg he suffered against the Kansas City Chiefs near the end of last season. Andrew Datko, a seventh round pick this year is also a project and coming off a couple of surgeries to his shoulders.
Behind them are the likes of Tommie Draheim and Don Barclay, two other rookies, are trying to make the team.
Needless to say, the experience on the line beyond the starters is minimal. When you’re trying to cobble together a unit that’s responsible for protecting the league’s Most Valuable Player, that’s not necessarily a good thing. Couple that with a unit that has to try to put together a consistent rushing game – at least enough of a rush to keep the Peppers and Allens at bay – the Packers have their work cut out.
It’s inevitable that there will be injuries along the line. Rarely, if ever, does a team make it through an entire season with its offensive and defensive lines intact. So, when the injuries occur, the next man in line has to step in without a discernible drop-off.
Packers guard T.J. Lang knows all about stepping in. He did so last year when the Packers lost Daryn Colledge to free agency. Here’s what he had to say when Newhouse went down during the scrimmage:
“But we have a young offensive line and that’s what we’re trying to do in training camp. We’re trying to get as many guys ready to play as we can. Injuries are part of the game. The next man has to step up, go out there and play. If somebody goes down, that’s what we’ll have to do.”
In theory, he’s right. Let’s hope that in practice, he’s also right.