GREEN BAY—The severity of Don Barclay’s knee injury wasn’t known immediately after practice on Tuesday, but if he’s out for any length of time, there couldn’t be a bigger single blow to the depth of the Packers offensive line.
Through the first week and a half of training camp, Barclay has been the top substitute for first-team reps at right tackle and at either guard spot. He has played some center in the past and could play left tackle in a pinch, too.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy called Barclay “exactly what you’re looking for” on and off the field, and the hope is the injury isn’t as bad as it appeared, when Barclay went down awkwardly while blocking in a blitz drill, clutched his knee and had to be carted off the field.
“He has a ton of value to this offensive line,” left guard Josh Sitton said. “Typically you don’t get a sixth guy that can play that many positions and has that much experience, 20-some games started. That will be a big one if he’s down, but hopefully it’s nothing too serious.”
If it is, it immediately thrusts two other reserve linemen closer to the starting lineup in tackle Derek Sherrod and guard Lane Taylor.
Sherrod has worked mostly at left tackle in camp so far, but McCarthy said he could shift over to the right side if needed. He has battled his way back from nearly two full lost seasons due to injury, and Sitton said he was just talking to fellow guard T.J. Lang on Monday about how Sherrod in recent days has looked as good as he ever has.
“I think he’s had a hell of a camp,” Lang said. “He looks bigger, he looks stronger, he looks quicker. He’s a guy that’s definitely good to have some insurance, being that tackle, that third guy. He’s taking steps, and he’s also going to be an important guy for us.”
So might Taylor, who made the team as an undrafted rookie a year ago and played sparingly but now could be needed as the primary backup to Sitton and Lang. If nothing else, the snaps he’ll get in the preseason opener on Saturday in Nashville almost certainly went up.
“He’s had some days up and down,” McCarthy said. “I’m looking for Lane to put together a good week of practice and play well against Tennessee.”
Safety Morgan Burnett’s availability for that game is suddenly in question as well after he missed Tuesday’s practice with an oblique strain.
His absence led to rookie Ha Ha Clinton-Dix being paired with Micah Hyde at safety with the No. 1 defense. Clinton-Dix, the first-round pick from Alabama, said his approach is to keep playing every snap the same, no matter the unit.
“When your name is called, it’s just time to go all out,” he said. “With Morgan being out right now, you just have to step in and play for him. I’m going to get a couple reps with the 1’s, go hard and not look at it any different.”
In the ongoing competition at safety, second-year pro Chris Banjo continued his solid camp on Tuesday. Moments after veteran cornerback Jarrett Bush intercepted a pass intended for Jarrett Boykin, Banjo came across the middle to bat down a Matt Flynn throw for tight end Ryan Taylor.
A while later, Banjo nearly had an interception – and probably should have had one – when Scott Tolzien’s throw for tight end Jake Stoneburner was off the mark and Banjo got a piece of it.
“Knowing the playbook now is allowing me to relax a little bit but at the same time play a little faster,” said Banjo, whom McCarthy noted looks more confident this year, no doubt a function of spending an entire offseason in Green Bay after arriving during the first week of camp as an undrafted rookie last year.
Rookie quarterback Chase Rettig completed a successful two-minute drill, covering the final 50 yards in less than 17 seconds with strikes to Chris Harper and Miles White, the latter for the TD.
Elsewhere at receiver, rookie Jeff Janis now has two days of practice under his belt after missing the first week due to a case of shingles, and he expects to progress to full-contact work soon.
His return has coincided with the absence of fellow rookie receiver Jared Abbrederis, who tore the ACL in his knee last Wednesday, practiced on Thursday and then had the knee checked out because it felt sore. He was “kinda shocked” to hear the diagnosis and has been watching practice while waiting to have surgery, which he said would likely be this week or next week.
“A lot of the guys on the team have been real encouraging. It’s been good to hear their thoughts,” Abbrederis said.
“Obviously, I want to be out there. Nobody wants to sit back and let other guys go to work when you have to watch. That’s the worst part, not being out there to play the game you love. But you use it as motivation to get back and get stronger for next year.”