Notebook: O-Line Headed In Right Direction


It's impossible to say what the Green Bay Packers' offensive line is going to look like in 2009, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy is without a doubt excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.

There is some uncertainty regarding the overall health of the group, as McCarthy confirmed on Wednesday that left tackle Chad Clifton would have a "clean-out procedure" done on one if not both knees, and that right tackle Mark Tauscher's knee surgery would be taking place sometime in the first half of January.

Also, center Scott Wells is set to undergo shoulder surgery this offseason.

But the young talent that continues to rise in the shadow of the veterans bodes well for both the unit's depth and perhaps the ability to anchor players down into set positions, barring the injuries that led to another year of shuffling and re-shuffling up front.

Three draft choices from 2006 - Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz and Tony Moll - will go into their fourth seasons with a combined 103 starts among them (Colledge 44, Spitz 41, Moll 18). Meanwhile Allen Barbre will get another year in the offseason program, which helped him considerably last year, and rookie Josh Sitton had worked his way back into the starting lineup at right guard by season's end this past year.

In addition, fellow rookie Breno Giacomini is considered by the coaching staff one of the line's most improved players who could challenge for Tauscher's right tackle spot depending on the veteran's recovery and how his pending free agency situation is resolved.

"I have in mind what I think every coach has in mind -- we would like to line up and play with the same five guys for 16 games," McCarthy said. "But we've got to remember why were in this mode that we are in, and it's because of injuries. We haven't been able to stay healthy.

"We created competition that you like to do. It is a group that is young, that if you look at the experience Jason Spitz and Daryn Colledge have compared to other third-year players, you have to feel very good about that. I feel very good about the level of play that they have given us. But we would like to settle in on five starting guys."

Among possible changes, McCarthy said the staff would possibly give Spitz a longer look at center, and he made it sound like the right guard spot could be Sitton's to lose. There's already significant competition awaiting all the players before the draft and free agency potentially bring in more future prospects along the line, and there almost certainly won't be room for everyone on the final roster come September.

But what McCarthy clearly sees on the horizon is experienced players like Colledge and Spitz hitting their stride and becoming truly established veterans like Clifton and Tauscher, provided they can settle into one position, with Sitton not far behind.

"I think what's nice about our team, we talk about the offensive line, how many starts those guys have in three years," McCarthy said. "I think the most important aspect of our football team is our experience level is increasing, and they're still young, and I think that's exciting."

Strong foundation

Whether Aaron Rodgers' first season as Green Bay's starting quarterback is remembered more for topping 4,000 yards or coming up empty in the win column in late-game situations, only time will tell.

But McCarthy was pleased with the production he got from Rodgers and feels the young signal-caller has established a solid foundation upon which to build a successful career.

"I think Aaron Rodgers played at a very steady, steady level, which was a high level based on his statistics," McCarthy said. "He has given us a baseline, a standard that we will hold him to and the offensive group as we move forward."

Rodgers finished the season ranked sixth in the league with a 93.8 quarterback rating. He completed 63.6 percent of his passes (341-of-536) for 4,038 yards and 28 TDs with 13 interceptions. Rodgers' yards and touchdowns both ranked fourth in the league.

{sportsad300}McCarthy said he thought the best parts of Rodgers' game were his decision-making and his accuracy, but by no means has he played his best football.

"I thought he was very good outside of the pocket making plays with his feet," McCarthy said. "I thought he was smart in space. He took a couple of hits earlier in the season that you didn't see later in the season. I thought he learned from his mistakes.

"The beauty of Aaron is he is young and he has the opportunity to only improve. But I think he has a good baseline to start from."

Top assistant to interview

McCarthy confirmed that assistant head coach and linebackers coach Winston Moss will be interviewing for the head coaching job with the St. Louis Rams.

The relationship between McCarthy and Moss dates back to 2000 in New Orleans, where they spent five years on the Saints coaching staff together. McCarthy made Moss assistant head coach prior to the 2007 season, thinks highly of him, and knows he would have a significant void to fill should Moss move on, but he emphasized he would not stand in Moss' way as he tries to move up the coaching ranks.

"I don't think it's right for me to talk about career advancement with your staff and trying to help guys and then when the opportunity comes you hope he doesn't get the job," McCarthy said. "That's not the case at all.

"I'm going to help him the best I can to get ready for his interview. I think it's a great opportunity for him. I think it is well-deserved."

Injury/medical update

In addition to the offensive linemen, McCarthy updated several other players' health status as the season concluded.

Fullback Korey Hall should be over his knee sprain in a few weeks, with the same report for Giacomini and his ankle sprain.

Safety Atari Bigby has undergone ankle surgery and already has begun his rehab, while the rehabs for linebacker Nick Barnett and defensive end Kenny Pettway from knee surgery also are off to a strong start.

Also, defensive tackle Justin Harrell will have his lower back problems re-evaluated. There was no timetable given for any of the players' potential return to football duty.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Action Needed: Update your Packers Mobile App!

Fans attending any games during the 2023 season should update their Packers mobile app due to important upgrades and enhancements.