Barclay Appreciates Support, Ready To ‘Fight’

Coming off a rocky first game in a year, Don Barclay will be entrusted to protect Aaron Rodgers' blind side on Sunday at Pittsburgh.

After struggling at right tackle against New England, Don Barclay will be Aaron Rodgers’ blind-side protector as the starting left tackle against Pittsburgh in Sunday’s preseason game.

Barclay allowed one sack, was flagged for holding and allowed two additional pressures against the Patriots. Now, with David Bakhtiari out with a sore knee, Barclay must rebound in a big way in his first professional game at the demanding left tackle position.

“I feel like everywhere on the line you’re going to have one-on-one battles either way, whether you’re at right tackle, left tackle,” Barclay said on Friday. “You could be the blind side at right tackle some plays if he’s looking left. It definitely has that name on it. I’ve played the position before in the past, so it’s nothing new to me. I’ve just got to go out there and execute, bottom line.”

Barclay was a three-year starter at left tackle at West Virginia. He went undrafted in 2012 but started four late-season game at right tackle as a rookie and 14 more games at right tackle in 2013. In that season, he allowed 9.5 sacks, according to STATS, but the Packers rarely gave him help. He missed all of 2014 with a torn ACL. That made the New England game his first action in about a year, which perhaps played a role in his subpar performance.

“Let’s remember he’s one year removed from a bad injury,” offensive line coach James Campen said on Thursday. “Don Barclay is a guy that I have all the confidence in the world in. OK? He’ll play much better than he did last week. He played better in the game in New England than he did the Family Night because there’s less reps. Don Barclay is a pro and Donnie will perform well.”

Rodgers spoke with confidence about Barclay, too.

“I don’t think that’s a position he feels uncomfortable in,” he said. “I think he feels very good at left tackle. Like anybody playing a different position, you’re going to want to give him some help at times, some body presence. But we expect him to play well. Donnie can do a lot of things for us. He can play really all five of the positions on the offensive line and that makes him a very invaluable person to our team.”

Barclay appreciated the support.

“Yeah, that means a lot,” he said. “That’s something that from the day I go there, I think you’ve got to kind of establish who you are and establish the trust between your coaches and teammates, first off. I’m trying to do that every day. For those two to say something like that, it definitely means a lot. I’m going to go out there and fight for Aaron just as much as I’m going to fight for every one of these linemen or every one of the defensive guys.”

Words, of course, will only go so far, especially when the health of the two-time MVP quarterback and face of the franchise is at stake. Then again, coach Mike McCarthy could take the conservative approach and not play Rodgers. After all, Rodgers played 33 snaps and threw 19 passes against the Patriots.

Regardless of whether he’s blocking for Rodgers or Scott Tolzien, Barclay had the full week at left tackle to help get his footwork in order for Sunday’s game. He went 3-2 in the one-on-one pass-protection drill this week. In his first rep on Monday, he got smoked on a speed rush by Mike Neal. On Wednesday, Barclay rebounded to beat Neal.

“I feel close” to 100 percent, Barclay said. “I’ve definitely watched some games. Last game I played in was the playoff game two years ago. You try to look at that and try to build up to that and watch yourself. It’s definitely coming there. I’m confident in that, the knee feels good. So, I’m just trying to build off that every day.”

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