New Challenge for One of NFL's Top Guards

Josh Sitton has 3,200 snaps of regular-season experience and a Pro Bowl selection as a right guard but he's a focal point of the big offensive line shakeup as the Packers seek excellence on offense.

Josh Sitton's career changed at the Pro Bowl.

"We had three right guards and I was the youngest there, so I got stuck on the left side," Sitton said.

And with that, Sitton was part of what has to be one of the biggest offensive line switcheroos in NFL history. Sitton has gone from right guard to left guard, Bryan Bulaga from right tackle to left tackle, T.J. Lang from left guard to right guard and Marshall Newhouse from left tackle to right tackle. The only lineman not on the move is center Evan Dietrich-Smith, and he's got just four professional starts at that spot.

Sitton's performance at the Pro Bowl wasn't the deciding factor but it was "more information" for coach Mike McCarthy to consider as he searches for answers as his offense went from record-setting brilliant in 2011 to merely very good in 2012.

"He looked natural over there (at the Pro Bowl)," offensive line coach James Campen said on Tuesday. "Josh is a good athlete and can adjust to things very quickly. I wasn't surprised but he did a good job over there."

A fourth-round pick in 2008, Sitton had established himself as one of the best guards in the NFL during his four seasons as the full-time starting right guard. Based on's player ratings, Sitton was the No. 8 guard overall (No. 6 right guard) in 2009, No. 2 (No. 1 right guard) in 2010, No. 5 (No. 3 right guard) in 2011 and No. 6 (No. 4 right guard) in 2012. He allowed nine sacks during those seasons.

But, with McCarthy's preference for an "old-school" offensive line in which Sitton and Bulaga are charged with protecting Aaron Rodgers' blind side, Sitton's 3,200-plus regular-season reps of experience at right guard have been tossed aside in McCarthy's quest for excellence.

"It's different, man," Sitton said. "I've lined up on the right side for nine years — played a little bit of left guard in college for a couple games. You do something for so long, it kind of messes with your head. You're used to being one side, you're used to being on this side of the hash and you're used to setting the protections, looking at the linebacker at a certain angle. Everything is a little bit different. But out there today, it actually felt pretty good. I was pleased. It will all come along. I'm just glad we have enough time to get used to it."

The bold four-player switch shows good isn't good enough for McCarthy. From 2010 through 2012, the Packers averaged 28.8 points per game — third-most in the league. Even last year, a supposed "down" season for the offense with too many sacks and too few rushing yards, Green Bay checked in fifth with 27.1 points per game.

"I think we're all a little surprised," Sitton said. "That's a big move. You don't see a four-position switch on the offensive line very often, so it's definitely surprising, but at the end of the day, it's football. We'll get used to it. We'll continue to grow and hopefully it'll be a good change for us."

McCarthy said he's "excited" for the challenge that awaits Sitton and Bulaga, and he'd make sure they'll be ready for the season by giving them ample reps against Clay Matthews.

For Sitton, he's excited to go along for the ride with Bulaga. Sitton has played alongside a bunch of right tackles, starting with veteran Mark Tauscher in 2009 and undrafted rookie Don Barclay last season.

"I'm open for anything," Sitton said. "It's one of those things where it's happening and it is what it is. It's kind of exciting because it is a new challenge for me. I've been doing the same thing for a long time now. It's exciting to do something different."

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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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