Daryn Colledge has started two games at left tackle in his NFL career thus far, and he's going to start at least one more, and maybe additional ones beyond that, beginning this Sunday in St. Louis.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy didn't have much information on the severity of Chad Clifton's sprained ankle that knocked him out of Sunday's game against Cincinnati. But he did say the team is planning to play at least this week without Clifton, which turns over the left-tackle duties to Colledge, the regular starter at left guard.
As an emergency fill-in against the Bengals, Colledge did not fare well, allowing multiple sacks in the second half to defensive end Antwan Odom, who had a five-sack day in all. McCarthy expressed confidence that with a full week to prepare at his new position, Colledge would not experience the same difficulties.
"He was challenged a little bit, missing practice on Friday with a foot sprain, and he just did not look very comfortable there," McCarthy said. "I thought he played well at left guard. He graded out well. But he just did not look comfortable at left tackle."
Colledge's other ventures at left tackle came in emergency situations as well - at Miami in 2006 when Clifton came down with food poisoning the night before the game, and at Tennessee last year when Clifton had a severe allergic reaction to some medication the morning of the game.
The Miami game started out rough, as Colledge allowed two sacks to All-Pro defensive end Jason Taylor before settling down and taking advantage of some protection adjustments that gave him some help. Last year in Tennessee, he didn't have any prep time either but didn't have any glaring deficiencies.
It's worth noting, though, that in past years Colledge has taken a fair number of snaps at left tackle in practice, filling in for Clifton when he was resting his sore knees or shoulders (all of which were surgically repaired this past offseason). This year, in an effort to get the interior of the offensive line established, Colledge played exclusively left guard through training camp and the first two weeks of practice in the regular season.
So he had taken little to no practice snaps at left tackle since the second half of 2008 until Sunday, when Clifton's injury forced the offensive line to shuffle. Jason Spitz took Colledge's left guard spot and Scott Wells came off the bench to take Spitz's place at center.
Colledge wasn't making any excuses, but there's no doubt in his mind he's going to be more prepared to play left tackle this week.
"I'll prepare more just because I didn't play well," he said. "I've got a lot of fundamental work to do, a lot of film work to do. I've got a quality opponent coming up. So for me, I've got a lot of work to do this week.
"You have to completely forget about it. I have to go back to work. I know exactly what I did wrong, and I know what I have to get better at."
Just like last week against the Bears, though, when right tackle Allen Barbre had a rough first start, Colledge wasn't the only one experiencing troubles in pass protection. It's the area that by far is the biggest concern after two games, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 10 times and hit 19 times by the Bears and Bengals.
"Our goal going into a game is to have one sack per game, so that would be 16 for a full season," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "In '07 I think we had 19, and we think 16 was a realistic goal, so we've got an awful lot of work to do. We have to protect the quarterback better. We're awful concerned about it."
The most frustrating part for McCarthy as the play-caller is that some of the sacks are coming on plays with a seven-man protection called - either two tight ends or a tight end and a running back staying in to protect along with the five down linemen.
"The reality of it is we have fundamental breakdowns," McCarthy said. "As we talked about as a staff today, we could have had nine-man protections on a couple of those where we flat-out just get beat, one individual gets beat fundamentally, and it causes a sack and a quarterback hit that we need to eliminate from our play.
"If we have a tendency as an offensive staff, we may try to help these guys too much. At some point, you have to win the one-on-one battle with the help being secondary instead of a primary focus."
Colledge said he believes everyone's focus is the same as his - to play up to each player's capabilities, which hasn't happened much over the first two games, significantly hindering the offensive production.
"We've got a lot of guys that want to get a lot better this weekend," he said. "We as a whole offense want to play a much better game. I was a large part of that and I know that. For me I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I think every guy across the board wants to play better."
Other injury news
Safety Nick Collins has what McCarthy termed a "clavicle sprain," but he hasn't been ruled out of this week's game. McCarthy indicated it's possible Collins could practice on Wednesday, and while there's no guarantee he will play on Sunday, that possibility is an indication Collins' injury isn't as serious as it could have been.
Fellow safety Aaron Rouse has a neck stinger, and his practice availability would be evaluated on Wednesday as well, but McCarthy said he's planning to have Rouse for Sunday's game.
With Atari Bigby already out for at least a month with a knee injury, Jarrett Bush and newcomer Derrick Martin are the next two safeties should either Collins or Rouse not be available.
McCarthy said the false-start call that ended the game Sunday when the Packers were scrambling to get one final play off at Cincinnati's 10-yard line was the right one. When reviewing the film, McCarthy said Green Bay's offensive line was set at the snap but two of the perimeter players were not, so the penalty - which results in a 10-second run-off in that situation - was a valid call.
Preliminary Hall of Fame list
Several individuals with ties to the Packers are among the list of 131 players, coaches and contributors who make up the preliminary list of modern-era nominees for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2010.
The preliminary list is eventually whittled down to 25 semifinalists and then 15 finalists (plus two senior nominees), from which an induction class of between four and seven is selected.
The most notable names with Green Bay connections include former general manager Ron Wolf, safety LeRoy Butler, receiver Sterling Sharpe and current outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene. Other players who made brief stops in their careers in Green Bay include linebacker Hardy Nickerson (2002), defensive lineman Steve McMichael (1994), and running back/receiver Eric Metcalf (2002).
Linebacker Clay Matthews' father, also named Clay Matthews, is a preliminary nominee as well.
All of the aforementioned players have been preliminary nominees before, and they face a particularly tough road in the process this year with running back Emmitt Smith and wide receiver Jerry Rice among the seven first-year eligible players.
Also eligible for the first time is quarterback Rich Gannon, who has served as the Packers' preseason television analyst for the past four seasons.
This year the Hall of Fame is offering a "Voice Your Choice" campaign to allow fans to offer their opinions on who should be enshrined in Canton in 2010. This "fan vote" on www.jcp.com/fans is a public opinion poll and will not count toward the actual selection. The official voting is done by the Hall's Board of Selectors. The program will provide, however, a forum for fans to show their passion and interest in recognizing the contributions of players.