We were quick to praise rookie Don Barclay‘s play on Sunday and it looks like the Green Bay Packers coaches took notice too.
Barclay, one of two undrafted rookie backups on the Packers offensive line, came in at right tackle after T.J. Lang went down with an injury. The Packers have already said Barclay will start if Lang can’t go this week (as if they had another choice), but he could remain the starter even if Lang is ready.
In that scenario, Lang would move back to left guard and replace Evan Dietrich-Smith. Lang, who has been filling in for Bryan Bulaga at right tackle, seems much better suited for left guard. He’s struggled mightily at times at right tackle and so has Dietrich-Smith.
Barclay, on the other hand, actually seemed to improve the right tackle play when he was inserted into the lineup on Sunday.
“I thought in the run game he was physical, that’s a trait that we really like in Don. I thought the pass protection, a lot of his things were technical. I thought he did a solid job,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “When a rookie comes in for his first time in game action and you’re able to keep playing throughout your gameplan, I think that’s a big credit to him.”
Can we expect Barclay to play at Bulaga’s level? Probably not, although Bulaga’s level of play wasn’t all that high. Instead of weakening two positions — left guard and right tackle — by taking Lang away from left guard, the Packers would theoretically only be weaker at one with Barclay in the lineup.
Mike McCarthy has said he wants his five best offensive linemen on the field. Well, if Sunday was any indication, Barclay is currently one of those guys.