Mr. Can't Stay On The Field

One item that was seemingly lost on most everyone outside of the Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein, who mentioned it in passing, is that Green Bay Packers starting left guard Daryn Colledge won’t be playing left tackle anymore, regardless of what happens to starter Chad Clifton.

Colledge filled in for Clifton at left tackle the past two games as Clifton nursed an ankle injury. This week, rookie T.J. Lang, a fourth-round pick out of  Eastern Michigan, began working exclusively as Clifton’s backup.

“It’s a big step to fill in at left tackle,” Lang said. “I definitely take some pride that they trust me, trust me to cover Aaron’s blindside. You have to step up and do it. You can’t have any excuses. That’s how I’m preparing. If it comes down to it and I need to play there, I feel I’m prepared.”

Colledge got thrown around pretty badly while he filled in for Clifton, despite his familiarity with the Packers blocking scheme and the fact that he played tackle in college, but the move to elevate Lang is no less surprising.

Clifton has dealt with multiple injuries the past couple years. His knees are presumably held together with rubber bands and duct tape, so like the slutty girl on prom night, Clifton could go down at any moment. The Packers must think highly of Lang then, right?

Well, we don’t really know what the Packers think about Lang and the coaching staff hasn’t been able to find him a position, which makes this sudden move somewhat curious on the surface.

After playing left tackle in college, Lang was projected as a guard with the Packers, but coach Mike McCarthy didn’t seem to know what to do with him.

Lang played some right tackle in training camp, and then the team decided they wanted to let Allen Barbre and Breno Giacomini battle it out for that position (which in hindsight, was a tremendous decision). Lang was moved behind Colledge and Josh Sitton at the guard positions where he got lost in the shuffle (Jason Spitz is Colledge’s backup and Evan Dietrich-Smith is Sitton’s). Essentially, Lang – who many within the Packers organization view as a future starter – got very few reps in training camp. Until this week, Lang had no true position and was listed as third on the depth chart at both left tackle and left guard.

The Packers inability to figure out what to do with Lang caused some observers to ask if his development was being hindered. Well, Lang’s development was being hindered and it just may come back to bite the Packers in the ass.

Lang’s elevation to Clifton’s backup is indicative of three things.

First, the Packers don’t think too much of Daryn Colledge – at least as a tackle. Although, I wouldn’t say that Colledge has played stellar guard this year either.

Second, the Packers know they have problems at tackle and need to get Lang more reps. The fact that Lang was abused by Jared Allen when he was inserted for an injured Colledge against the Vikings and is still one tweaked ankle away from protecting Aaron Rodgers’ blind side should tell you just how bad things are, which brings me to my final point.

It befuddles me why the coaching staff didn’t make this move earlier. Lang has potential, but he should have gotten the reps in training camp to prepare him. It isn’t unprecedented for a rookie to start at left tackle – Clifton is proof of that. This was a major and obvious oversight on the part of the Packers coaching staff. It’s as if they don’t know their own players.

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