The Packers Offensive Line Situation is Ridiculous
It's a bad time to be a tackle in Green Bay.
Since the start of training camp, the top five tackles on the Packers' roster have missed time due to injury. With the addition of Kyle Murphy today, three of those five have now been sent to injured reserve.
Though David Bakhtiari returned to practice today, the Packers' offensive line has begun to resemble the group that wallowed through the Great Guard Disaster of 2005, when the cupboard was so bare that lame duck head coach Mike Sherman was forced to trot out the likes of Will Whitticker and Adrian Klemm at guard.
It's not for a lack of trying
But this is hardly a situation due to a lack of depth or resources spent at the position. Since the end of the 2015 season (the last year the Packers' faced a major wave of injures on the line), Ted Thompson and the Packers have spent two draft picks on tackles and re-signed a free agent whose best reps have come at tackle. Short of shelling out nearly $17,000,000 for JC Tretter, who wouldn't have started for the Packers this year and who had played a whopping one career game at tackle, what else could they really have done?
What's more, there's little in the way of easy solutions to this problem short of hoping to weather the storm. Don Barclay is still more than a month away from the point where he'd be eligible to return from IR (even if he's healthy) and it's fair to wonder if he'd even be an option at left tackle.
Free agent options are also few and far between. Guys like Michael Oher, King Dunlap, Ryan Clady, Sebastian Vollmer, and Gosder Cherilus have all started in the NFL, but they all have another notable feature in common: they all retired this offseason. Good luck luring them back with a veteran's minimum salary.
Signing a guy like Ulrick John, therefore, may actually be the best option the Packers have. Sure, he was hanging out on somebody's practice squad, but he started three games last year and has the physical attributes to be a successful player. If nothing else, at least he's healthy.
Light at the end of the tunnel?
Fortunately, David Bakhtiari did return to practice today. At least, he returned to the portion that was open to the media. Hamstring injuries of all kinds can be a tricky to deal with, and as much as it would be painful to play the Bears without him, the Packers would certainly much rather he be healthy in December than push hard for a Thursday night game in September.
Bryan Bulaga, too, appears to be getting closer to a full return, though he didn't participate in practice today. If the Packers can at least get their bookends back, the offensive line situation suddenly seems a lot more palatable.
In the mean time, though, it's ugly, and it could be ugly for the Packers on Thursday as a result.