With the injuries to Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Charles Woodson, Sam Shields, Desmond Bishop, D.J. Smith, B.J. Raji, and Nick Perry, it’s easy to conclude that the Packers have become the walking wounded. I disagree. In my estimation, they’ve been extremely lucky that through roughly half an NFL season, their offensive line has been nearly unscathed.
It’s been a long time since the Packers had effectively the same five offensive linemen for a entire season: 2003 to be exact. Though the line has been up and down thus far, a single injury anywhere along line could likely result in disaster – knock on wood.
The first man up is Evan Dietrich-Smith, a journeyman who isn’t even replacement level on his best day. His best asset is that he can play any of the interior positions, but what if one of the tackles goes down?
In that scenario, T.J. Lang would move outside with EDS filling Lang’s spot. While Lang has improved considerably since the last time he played tackle, he struggles with finesse rushers. With Julius Peppers, Jared Allen, Chris Avril, and the Giants’ trio of Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and Jason Pierre-Paul left on the schedule, it’s a scary scenario.
All of which is why the news that Derek Sherrod is unlikely to play this year is a big blow to the Packers. Sherrod’s return would have given Mike McCarthy a serviceable option at tackle should something happen to Marshall Newhouse or Bryan Bulaga.
Think back to 2009 when Clifton was injured early in the season, Daryn Colledge slid from left guard to left tackle. The adjusted line played terribly, resulting in the aforementioned trial run of Lang as a tackle. Lang’s struggles on the outside led the team to re-sign longtime right tackle Mark Tauscher.
There’s no Tauscher fallback plan this year, and the Packers are just one injury away from needing one.