When the Green Bay Packers took the field on Sunday to square off against the San Francisco 49ers in the season opener, they started two young unproven tackles on their offensive line.
David Bakhtiari, a fourth-round pick out of Colorado, held up admirably against Pro Bowl pass rusher Aldon Smith, who tallied 19.5 sacks last season. Granted, Smith got 1.5 sacks against the rookie lineman, but overall, Bakhtiari kept the Smith Brothers (Justin & Aldon) at bay for a majority of the game. Not bad of an NFL debut for an undersized college prospect.
Aaron Rodgers even commented after the game that the protection was good, and he had plenty of time to pass.
First year starter Don Barclay was also faced with a formidable challenge in warding off outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks. Brooks has recorded 13.5 sacks in the last two years and knows how to bring the pressure from the right side of the line.
But considering the 49ers stellar front seven and array of pass rushers, the two young offensive tackles held up well in the season opener. They only gave up a handful of pressures and were instrumental in the prolific Green Bay passing attack. Rodgers managed to throw for 333 yards and 3 TDs against one of top defense in the league, and besides a handful of plays, had plenty of time in the pocket to get off his throws.
Now in week two, Bakhtiari and Barclay with be faced with another difficult task in only their second game together as starters on the offensive line.
Last year, Kerrigan recorded 8.5 sacks and earned his first Pro Bowl honors with Orakpo out of the lineup for a majority of the year.
Orakpo is as fierce as they come. From 2009 to 2011, he recorded 28.5 sacks–one of the top in the league during this time. He missed almost the entire 2012 season because of a pectoral muscle tear, but the All-Pro linebacker should be ready to return to his old self this season.
Kerrigan and Orakpo are both former first-round picks and should give the young Green Bay tackles some problems on Sunday.
Bakhtiari and Barclay have withstood the fire once already, but now they’ll be challenged again.
If they can give Rodgers some time in the pocket, then the former MVP should have no problem picking apart a weak Washington secondary.