Barbre Looks To Get In The Mix

With all the substituting likely to go on in a game that can’t change Green Bay’s playoff position, there’s another prospect at left guard who might get a chance to throw his hat into the ring for 2008 a little early -- rookie Allen Barbre. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Lions Game Center Notebook: Jackson Ready For More Action Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 28


With the ongoing competition at the left guard spot along the offensive line, it's fair to say Sunday's regular-season finale will determine whether second-year pro Daryn Colledge or third-year man Junius Coston will be the Packers' starter there for the playoffs.

But with all the substituting and rotating likely to go on in a game that can't change Green Bay's playoff position, there's another prospect at left guard who might get a chance to throw his hat into the ring for 2008 a little early.

Rookie Allen Barbre could get his share of snaps at left guard on Sunday as well, depending on how the substitution patterns play out.

For instance, if the coaching staff decides to rest left tackle Chad Clifton, Colledge could slide over into his spot, and if right guard Jason Spitz takes a breather, Coston might jump in there. That would result in a call to Barbre, the fourth-round draft choice out of Missouri Southern State.

"We haven't even really talked about who's going to play," Barbre said. "I don't even know what's going to go on. But if my opportunity comes, I want to take advantage of it."

It would be a significant opportunity for Barbre, who has been active for just six games this season and played mostly on special teams. His only notable game action on offense came on Nov. 11 against Minnesota, when he played left guard for the final two series and found himself nose-to-nose with standout defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams.

Barbre didn't do anything spectacular or disastrous in that stretch, but he held his own, and the brief outing gave him that first building block a professional player needs.

"I was nervous and all that, but it felt real good to get in there," Barbre said. "It has me more excited to get back out there, keeping me hungry."

If he plays this week, he'll have a similar challenge in Detroit's defensive tackle tandem of Shaun Rogers and Cory Redding. Call it another baptism by fire, but it's as good a way as any to learn.

"He brings energy," offensive line coach James Campen said. "For him it's reps and quarters right now. The more you play, the more your awareness is going to go up. You've seen it once and you can react a little quicker than not having seen it."

Awareness is the aspect of his game Barbre has improved the most, and it's arguably the area in which he had the furthest to go coming from a Division II school. The jump from college to the NFL is big enough for most players, but it becomes even larger from a smaller school like Missouri Southern State.

The ability to recognize defensive line stunts and blitzes and adjust to last-second changes in protection schemes before the snap has taken time, but Barbre is getting there. The greater his awareness, the better chance he has of eliminating any hesitations or false steps that can leave young blockers overmatched against talented defensive linemen.

In Barbre's development, it can't be forgotten he has been learning a new position in this first year. Barbre played left tackle almost exclusively throughout college, like Colledge did at Boise State, and while the shift to guard is more easily made than the other way around, it's still different.

"Out there at tackle, you're kind of on an island," Barbre said. "At guard, you've got help and you're inside. It's more of a cluster. You have to get adjusted to the speed also. It changes inside."

{sportsad300}Like most of Barbre's game, it's coming along.

"He's getting better and better with it," Campen said of the transition. "He's learned a lot of it visually and listening in meetings and watching tape and those types of things. The biggest thing is just that he has to play with vision on both sides."

As primarily a scout team player in practice, Barbre has had only limited reps on offense since the regular season began, so it's been hard to make any major strides since training camp. That's why any potential playing time, like Sunday, gives him his best chance to apply all the knowledge he's been trying to absorb along the way.

And if it gets him that much closer to entering what likely will be a full-fledged competition at left guard next season, then all the better.

"I think it would show me where I'm at and what I need to work to," Barbre said. "If I get in, that's the opportunity I'll have."

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