GREEN BAY — The
Green Bay Packers are using their spring practices as a chance to
get their reconfigured offensive line accustomed to their new
offseason team activities began Monday, Packers coach Mike
McCarthy said Tuesday's practice was the first to feature 11-on-11
work after the first day of practice focused on fundamentals and
McCarthy made the
change last month. The five players — Bryan Bulaga, Josh Sitton,
T.J. Lang, Marshall Newhouse and Don Barclay were moved around.
Bulaga was moving
from right tackle to left tackle; Sitton and Lang were
flip-flopping their spots, with Sitton shifting to left guard and
Lang moving to right guard; and Newhouse moving to right tackle,
where he'll compete with Barclay and others.
On the first snap
of the 11-on-11 sessions, it was Bulaga, Sitton, center Evan
Dietrich-Smith, Lang and Newhouse left-to-right in front of
quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
But while working
together at their new positions was important, individually
adjusting both mentally and physically is the biggest challenge,
several of the players said.
None of them had
been told of the idea beforehand, even though changes were to be
expected after Rodgers was sacked a league-high 51 times in 2012
and the Packers' running game ranked 20th in the league in rushing
per game (106.4) and 22nd in yards per attempt (3.9).
"It was kind
of a quick meeting. Basically, it was, 'This is what's happening:
You guys are playing here, you guys are playing here,'" Lang
said Tuesday after first learning of the change.
thinking, 'Am I not playing good enough? Am I losing my job?' I
don't want to say any of us are secure, because there's always
move after practice Tuesday, McCarthy said that the move was made
to put the team's best linemen, Bulaga and Sitton, on the left
side to protect Rodgers' blind side.
As for how long
before the Sept. 8 regular-season opener at San Francisco he'll
have his starting five set, McCarthy said he didn't know.
"I'd like to
go maybe two years in a row without answering this question about
your offensive line," McCarthy said. "Would I like to
have five guys ready to say they're our starting five? And play 19
games? That's great. But we have to get them all ready."
Sitton said early
on it was a big adjustment.
we're all a little surprised. That's a big move," Sitton said
Tuesday. "You don't see a four-position switch on the
offensive line very often, so it's definitely surprising, but at
the end of the day, it's football. We'll get used to it. We'll
continue to grow and hopefully it'll be a good change for
Lang, McCarthy came down to the offensive line meeting room to
explain his reasoning last month. Then, it was time to get to
talked about it for 20 minutes, whatever it was, and got a better
explanation why it was happening, and it started to make more
sense to us," Lang said. "(But) when coach tells you to
do something, or asks you to do something, you just have to do it.
That's how it works.
definitely awkward for us the first couple days out on the field.
Your stance is uncomfortable, your footwork is awful, but we still
have a lot of time before we open up the season to make sure we're
getting better at our new spots. You just have to keep a positive
attitude, go out there and compete every day and just do what you
can do to get better."
Bulaga has the
added responsibility of protecting the blindside of his team's
"It's like a
lefty batting right-handed and not being ambidextrous," said
Bulaga, who was a left tackle in college at Iowa but has played
almost exclusively right tackle since entering the league as the
team's first-round pick in 2010.
flipping sides, you're flipping footwork. I think it's a little
more physical than mental, just because what we're doing mentally
is just flipping calls and flipping plays in our head. That's
really all it is. The physical standpoint of footwork, hand
placement — everything is turned around a little bit. It takes a
little bit of time to get used to that."
"You can't think too much about it; you can't make it bigger
than what it is. You just have to keep plugging away every day and
Newhouse is trying to do, even though the move is hard to see as
anything other than a demotion for him. Newhouse started 13
regular-season games in 2011 after injuries to Bulaga and veteran
left tackle Chad Clifton.
When Clifton was
released in April 2012, the Packers opted not to move Bulaga to
left tackle and stuck with Newhouse on the left side. Newhouse was
up and down in 18 starts last season at left tackle.
of taken aback," Newhouse said Tuesday. "But I looked
inward and acknowledged my role in them having to make the
decision (while) also knowing that I can play football and knowing
that I had a lot of success at the same time.
want to be perceived as the weak part of the line. I want to make
myself into a strength of the offensive line. It's motivation. I
do realize they had to make a decision, and my play was part of
them thinking they had to make a decision. So I understand that, I
accept that. But I also know I've had a lot of success, so I have
to accept the role I've been given and go at it 100 percent.
That's all I can really do."
fourth-round pick JC Tretter, an offensive lineman from Cornell,
was injured during Monday's practice but McCarthy did not divulge
the nature of the injury or give a timetable for his return. The
coach said that Tretter would miss the rest of OTAs. ... Defensive
end Mike Neal took snaps at outside linebacker during Tuesday's
practice. ... Cornerback Sam Shields, who has yet to sign his
restricted free-agent tender, was not in attendance. ...
Reinstated defensive end Johnny Jolly was not at Tuesday's
practice but could return to the team soon. He missed the past
three seasons after being suspended by NFL commissioner Roger
Goodell, but was reinstated this spring.