When the Green Bay Packers selected Byan Bulaga with the 23rd pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the big debate at the time was could the former Iowa Hawkeye play left tackle–well we are about to find out as according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, head coach Mike McCarthy has finally decided to move him to the left side as part of a major shake up along the Green Bay offensive line.
Throughout the offseason, McCarthy has talked about how disappointed he was in the play of the left side of the offensive line, which was in large part due to the struggles of Marshall Newhouse and the injury problems of T.J. Lang.
The Packers gave Newhouse every opportunity to lock down the position last season but after allowing a team-high 11 sacks, his struggles have finally gave way to the switch–Bulaga will now be the blindside protector of franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“I sat down with Bryan and Josh on Monday and I told them I wanted to make the move to where they’re on the left side,” McCarthy said to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “Those two are our most accomplished and experienced players. I told them about the responsibilities and my expectations about playing the left side. Some of the things we’ll want to get into schematically as we move forward. They were excited about it.”
There were questions about Bulaga playing left tackle coming out of college in part because of his relatively short arms for a left tacke (33 1/2 inches). Yet, he has great feet and has played at a Pro Bowl level on the right side, while displaying very good pass blocking skills in the process.
“I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t have full confidence in Bryan,” McCarthy said. “He’s been here everyday (in the off-season) and so I’ve seen him develop physically in all areas of his game. He’s a very mature player.”
Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton will also be making the move to the left side after excelling as a starter at right guard for the past three seasons. Lang is still penciled in as a starter, he will just be on the right side instead of the left, which McCarthy feels will be a better fit.
“T.J. just needs to get healthy,” McCarthy said. “It should be an easy transition for him. He’s played both the left side and the right side. If you go back, we’re a little bit of an extension of where you put your athletic guy on the left and the more powerful guy on the right.”
As for the right tackle position, the Packers are planning to have Newhouse compete for the starting job with second-year man Don Barclay, who started at right tackle down the stretch and in the postseason.
Green Bay is also hoping 2011 first round pick Derrick Sherrod gets medical clearance soon so he can be added to the mix. McCarthy also must decide where rookies David Bakhtiari and J.C. Tretter fit into the mix.
“We’ll do the best thing for the offensive line,” McCarthy said. “After we get those young guys in and do a personnel evaluation, we’ll decide how we’re going to go forward.”