Packers Training Camp Countdown: 21 Days

While most beat writers are playing golf, we keep hammering away with one great note after another. Today, it's a tip of the cap to general manager Ted Thompson for hitting one home run after another at this star-studded, youth-laden position group. And no, it's not wide receiver.

There are 21 days remaining until the Green Bay Packers kick off training camp.

Every day until the start of camp on July 26, we'll be giving you one juicy nugget to whet your appetite for the return of football. We'd give you more but the CBA forbids two-a-days. Sorry.

Thompson's fine line

The Packers have given up a lot of sacks during Aaron Rodgers' four years as the starting quarterback and the running game hasn't packed much of a punch since Ryan Grant went down in the 2010 opener.

The sacks, however, are considered a necessary evil with the way Rodgers plays the position, and running skills are of secondary importance for the running backs.

Perhaps that's why their offensive line doesn't get much respect around the league — which is a shame.

General manager Ted Thompson has done a remarkable job in the draft. Over the last five drafts, Thompson has selected nine offensive linemen. Four of them will line up with the No. 1 offense when training camp begins in three weeks and six are on the roster, and the other three landed elsewhere.

In 2008, he drafted starting right guard Josh Sitton in the fourth round. Sitton, who was's fifth-ranked guard last season, is the team's best run blocker and has allowed three sacks in the last two seasons, by PFF's count.

In 2009, Thompson used another fourth-round pick to land starting left guard T.J. Lang, who was PFF's 14th-ranked guard. He allowed two sacks in his first season as a full-time starter.

In 2010, Thompson landed starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga in the first round and found a late-round gem in left tackle Marshall Newhouse with a fifth-round compensatory selection. Bulaga allowed just one sack in 12 games and was PFF's third-ranked tackle. Newhouse was ranked last of the 43 tackles who played at least 75 percent of his team's snaps, but the Packers never changed course with Newhouse in the game and they finished second in NFL history with 560 points.

What about the others?

Breno Giacomini (fifth round, 2008) bombed in Green Bay but might start at right tackle for Seattle. Jamon Meredith (fifth round, 2009) didn't make the roster and was signed off the practice squad by Buffalo early during his rookie season. He's in the running to be the swing tackle for Tampa Bay.

In 2011, he used a first-round pick on Derek Sherrod, who was supposed to be the left tackle of the future and might wind up being the left tackle of the future, though a broken leg has put him behind Newhouse.

"He was doing very well until the Kansas City game," offensive line coach James Campen said last month. "You felt good about having him being a tackle who can play both sides. His development was slowed because of the lockout. I expect him when he gets back, he'll pick up (where he left off). That is a very strong-minded, tough kid now."

Also in 2011, Thompson used a sixth-round pick on Caleb Schlauderaff, who was dealt to the Jets at the end of training camp last summer.

Giacomini (eight in 2011), Meredith (four in 2009) and Schlauderaff (one in 2011) have combined for 13 starts.

The final selection was Andrew Datko, a talented but injury-plagued offensive tackle taken in the seventh round in April. Based on Thompson's recent history, Datko will be a success, too.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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