Offensive line remains major question mark

Packers coach Mike Sherman earlier in the week said he hoped to make a determination on who would start at the guard positions shortly after Saturday night's preseason game at Buffalo.

If Saturday's starting lineup foreshadows Sherman's decision, then the No. 1 duo will be rookie Will Whitticker at right guard and free-agent signing Adrian Klemm at left guard.

But, as if to tell people not to read too much into who started Saturday, by early in the second quarter Sherman had Scott Wells and Matt O'Dwyer in the lineup, and another player in the guard equation, Grey Ruegamer, was playing center.

The results were uneven, to be sure. None of the aforementioned quintet did much of anything to place a stranglehold on the position.

That fact alone, however, makes choosing a starting tandem as soon as possible critical to the early-season success of the Packers' offense.

No position on the team depends on chemistry as much as the offensive line. With a revolving door of players manning the interior line positions Saturday, and throughout training camp, for that matter, chemistry might as well as be trigonometry.

Klemm and Whitticker had their moments Saturday. Some good and some bad.

On their game-opening touchdown drive, Klemm led the way on a third-and-5 draw play that moved the chains. On another third-and-5 conversion, the Packers beautifully picked up a two-man blitz, with running back Tony Fisher taking one blitzing linebacker, center Mike Flanagan shifting to his left to take another linebacker, and Whitticker shifting to his left to take the lineman who had lined up over Flanagan.

On the next play, Whitticker pulled but missed his block, resulting in a 2-yard loss. On the next play, though, the Packers ran the draw again, and Whitticker charged inside to get enough of a linebacker to give the Packers a 9-yard gain.

That drive eventually ended with Brett Favre's touchdown pass to Ahman Green. While Favre deserves plenty of accolades for keeping the play alive, the Packers' line deserves credit, too. Favre had to dodge blitzing linebacker Jeff Posey, but the rest of the line kept the Bills at bay for the duration of the play.

Even with most of its marquee skilled-position players staying on the field, the Packers' offense spun its wheels in the rest of the first half, and the play of the offensive line factored in those troubles.

On the Packers' first play after the Bills tied the score, Whitticker and Kevin Barry missed their blocks on a Green run that picked up 4 yards but had the potential for more. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers moved the chains with a 22-yard scramble, and Najeh Davenport gained 7 yards on the next play as a pulling Klemm led the way and Barry handled Ryan Denney. On second-and-3, though, a pulling Klemm ran past Bills linebacker Takeo Spikes, who stuffed Davenport for no gain. The Packers wound up punting a play later.

The Packers' first drive of the second quarter lost 5 yards. On a second-and-9, a screen pass to Green went nowhere when Ruegamer whiffed on his block. Rodgers was sacked on third down as nose tackle Sam Adams blew past Ruegamer.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com


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