Give offensive line a little time

There has been a lot of concern with the Green Bay Packers offensive line, especially after the blitz-happy Buffalo Bills totaled eight sacks in Friday's Family Night scrimmage. The Packers have been trying different combinations of players at the guard positions each day in training camp with varying degrees of success. The line is going to need more time to determine who works best together.

Fortunately for the Packers, they still have more than a month to get the right players in place, so it's far too early to hit the panic button.

"I promise you when it's all said and done ... hey, we've got good people here," offensive line coach Larry Beightol said. "There's enough here. If I didn't think so, I'd tell you that, too. I'm not trying to defend anything. I'm here because I want to win. I've been in this league 21 years. Some guys get in this league and go to the Super Bowl. I've been fightin' my ass off for 21 years to get there. If I wanted to look like gloom and doom, I'd say, ‘My God, after that scrimmage the other day this isn't the year.' You don't know that. None of you do. That's why we're going to continue to practice."

Three of the five positions along the offensive line are set: Mike Flanagan will start at center and the tackle positions will be manned by Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher. Since Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera left Green Bay for greener pastures in March, the Packers have been trying to determine who will work best at both guard positions. Veteran free agent acquisitions Adrian Klemm and Matt O'Dwyer were the starters as training camp began. They may start when the Packers begin their regular season on Sept. 11, but there also is a good chance that one or both of them will get beat out.

Beightol has been rotating different sets of guards with the first-team offense over the past week in each practice. Thus far the top five guards in camp are veteran Grey Ruegamer, Matt O'Dwyer, Adrian Klemm, Atlas Herrion and Will Whitticker.

Ruegamer is a lock to make the team simply because he has outperformed the rest of the guards and knows the offense. Herrion and Whitticker are young and probably will make the team. O'Dwyer and Klemm are veterans and are injury prone. It is very possible that Klemm or O'Dwyer, or both, will be released in order to make room for Herrion and Whitticker.

Beightol says he wants to evaluate the guards during the Packers' upcoming preseason games against the San Diego Chargers on Thursday and Bills on Aug. 20 before he decides on the starting five. Trust Beightol. He's one of the best line coaches in the league. When he names a starting five, he'll want to stick with it.

In the meantime, the other veterans on the line are just trying to get a feel who can pick up where Wahle and Rivera left off.

"I really like that they're doing that versus switching guys in and out every series," said Flanagan. "When you get a whole practice with somebody, hopefully you can communicate because you're going to see the same play more than once. Hopefully, if you make a mistake on the first one you can work at it and be better the second time. I've been working with these guys, and so has (Scott) Wells. Hopefully, we can help the guys who haven't been here that long to get the terminology and the assignments."

Continuity is key with the offensive line, so it will be important for Beightol to determine the starting five soon but with confidence.

Todd Korth

Note: Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report. E-mail him at

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