Throughout the offseason and the first few days of training camp, Marshall Newhouse had taken the overwhelming majority of the reps with the Green Bay Packers' No. 1 offense. Newhouse took most of the reps on Tuesday, as well, but Don Barclay got plenty of action.
"You know what? Marshall's done a great job," said Barclay, downplaying the first big twist in one of the key battles of camp. "Whatever reps I can get, whatever opportunity, I'm just trying to go out there and show that I can play. There's always battles in camp, no matter where they're at."
Last season, Newhouse started all 16 games at left tackle without missing a snap; Barclay made the team as an undrafted rookie and was third in line at right tackle before being thrown into the fire at the end of the season. The big offensive line shakeup sent Newhouse to right tackle and set up the showdown against Barclay.
Newhouse had an up-and-down second season in the starting lineup. Facing a gauntlet of top pass rushers, Newhouse allowed nine sacks and 54 total pressures in 18 games, according to ProFootballFocus.com, compared to nine sacks and 58 total pressures in 15 games in 2011. Newhouse added almost nothing to the run game, however. The Packers ranked 32nd with a 2.3-yard average on runs off left tackle and 26th with an average of 4.5 yards around left end, according to league data.
Barclay was inserted into the lineup as a desperation measure after Bryan Bulaga and T.J. Lang sustained injuries. He started six games and played extensively in a seventh, exceeding all expectations. The Packers averaged 10.0 more rushing yards per game with Barclay in the lineup, and he was on the field for 10 of the 12 rushing touchdowns. The passing game, however, was a struggle, with five sacks and 28 total pressures allowed.
"I came out of nowhere after a freak injury with Bryan," Barclay said. "I struggled in the Vikings game on the road but I bounced back good from that. You can always get better. There were pass pros I wish I could take back. That's one thing I'm trying to work on."
Barclay has shown improvement in pass protection through two days of padded practices. He's 7-1 in the one-on-one pass-blocking drill, including 5-0 on Tuesday.
"We're going to rep him both at center and right tackle," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Based on Don's performance last year, we feel that he has earned an opportunity to compete to be the starter. But also, we have to make sure we have the center position taken care of, too. I mean there's a very good competition going on there for the second center."
It will be interesting to see if a third player enters the fray. Fourth-round pick David Bakhtiari is off to a strong start. He went 4-0 in the one-on-one drill on Sunday, then lost his first two reps on Tuesday before bouncing back with two wins. He's handled Clay Matthews in each of the first two days. In a one-on-one run-blocking drill on Tuesday, Bakhtiari was arguably the unit's most impressive performer, with dominant blocks against two of the defense's best players: Ryan Pickett and Datone Jones.
"If you can block Clay, you can block anyone," he said.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.