GREEN BAY—Clearly, the competition for starting jobs on the right side of the Packers offensive line is going to be intense this summer.
Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy concluded the team's rookie camp weekend by talking about his decision to move Bryan Bulaga and Josh Sitton from right tackle and right guard respectively, to the two positions on the left side of the Packers offensive line.
"We felt Bryan and Josh were our two best answers for the left side," McCarthy said. "You put those two guys on the left side. It creates more competition and reps with everybody on the right side. You're trying to create as much competition as possible."
Obviously, last season's starting left tackle, Marshall Newhouse, and starting left guard, T.J. Lang, are being forced to win the tackle and guard spots Bulaga and Sitton are vacating, but they'll be facing competition.
Don Barclay, an undrafted free agent in 2012, filled in capably at right tackle in the second half of last season, after Bulaga was lost for the year to a hip injury. Derek Sherrod, a first-round pick in 2011, is attempting a two-year comeback from a broken leg. Seventh-round draft pick Andrew Datko and undrafted free agent Greg Van Roten are holdovers from the 2012 rookie class, and this year's draft class includes two more offensive linemen, fourth-round tackles David Bakhtiari and JC Tretter, whose future is thought by some to involve a move to center.
"The offensive line is your biggest position group every year. We still don't have a feel for how we're going rep these guys. We're committed to give every player a chance to win a job," McCarthy said.
Having drafted two running backs within the team's first five picks in this year's draft, it's also thought the Packers are committed to improving a running game that was 20th in the league last season, struggled to convert third-and-one plays and hasn't had a thousand-yard rusher since 2009. Second-round pick Eddie Lacy and fourth-rounder Johnathan Franklin are being counted on to improve the Packers running game.
"They're two different types of backs. Lacy is a bigger back. We look for them to definitely help us and contribute," McCarthy said.
McCarthy also singled out undrafted Kansas State running back Angelo Pease, 5-10, 211, for his work this weekend.
Second-year quarterback B.J. Coleman got high marks for showing significant improvement in the year he's spent with the team since being a seventh-round pick last year.
"He looked like he had been here a year. That was evident. He's got some ability. There are some ways he's played the position in the past that are totally opposite from what he's being taught. There's a lot of retraining," McCarthy said of Coleman.
McCarthy said this year's crop of drafted and undrafted free agents will join the veterans in the team's conditioning program on Monday. He offered no information on the tryout players that participated in practices this weekend, other than to say there was "meeting being conducted now."
When asked about the status of former Packers defensive tackle Johnny Jolly, who's attempting to reenter the league following a couple of troubled years, McCarthy said: "Johnny is not here currently. He's still going through the process. When he is here, I'll speak on it more."
The Packers coach pronounced the weekend to have been "one of our better rookie camps, if not the best. The work was very good. We definitely feel good about the quality of men."
OTAs are next. McCarthy said they "will be different this year, though "they won't look much different to the media. We have a different emphasis. We changed some things in phase three.
"The real football doesn't start until training camp. We all know that," McCarthy said.