Bad news for O'Dwyer, O-line

At first glance, seeing veteran Matt O'Dwyer's name on Sunday's cut list didn't seem like a big deal. The journeyman offensive lineman played only four games in each of his past two seasons, spending the majority of his time on injured reserve.

Between the lines of O'Dwyer's departure lies some bad news for the Packers: Plans to replace O-line stalwarts Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle aren't working out, and that's an understatement.

O'Dwyer seemed like the perfect guy for the job. Despite his injury problems the past two years, he brought an impressive pedigree to Green Bay. Known for his strength, O'Dwyer blocked on lines that produced a 1,000-yard rusher in 7 of his 10 seasons – Adrian Murrell of Jets in 1996-97 and Curtis Martin in 1998, then Cincinnati's Corey Dillon in 1999-2002. O'Dwyer was a integral part of Dillon breaking an NFL record with 278 yards vs. Denver in 2002. (That was Walter Payton's record, since broken by Jamal Lewis in 2003). Coincidentally, Dillon ran over the Packers in Green Bay's humiliating loss to the Patriots Friday night.

O'Dwyer was the real thing from the beginning. He was an early second-round pick of the Jets in the 1995 NFL draft (33rd overall) out of Northwestern, with New York trading up to make him the second guard taken that year. O'Dwyer set out to pursue an ironman mentality both on and off the field. An avid weight-lifter who was named to Muscle Magazine's All-Strength Team, O'Dwyer made his first start as a rookie and started all 16 games the next four years. During the seasons that followed, O'Dwyer was slowed by injury, not ineffectiveness. In his only healthy season out of the last four, 2002, O'Dwyer was the only member of the Cincinnati Bengal offense on the field for every single snap.

The 6-foot-4, 315-pound O'Dwyer spent last season on Tampa Bay's physically unable to perform list after he tore a pectoral muscle while weight-lifting. He was given a clean bill of health upon signing with the Pack as an unrestricted free agent March 24.

It seemed like a "right place at the right time" stroke of luck for both O'Dwyer and the Packers. Green Bay needed a seasoned player strong enough to pave the way for Ahman Green and protect Brett Favre. O'Dwyer needed a home, preferably one with a vacancy on the offensive line and talented back who could benefit from his experience.

What happened?

Maybe his age (he turns 33 this Thursday) is catching up with him, or maybe once that injury bug bites it never goes away. O'Dwyer has come up with a couple of new maladies since joining the Pack, including a rib injury earlier in the summer, then recent neck problem which kept him out of some practices. He did little to distinguish himself this preseason, and he did not play in the Packers' total-team failure vs. the Pats Friday night. Then again, sitting out that game can't be any more damaging to a player's chances than being part of the debacle.

Obviously, the news is bad for O'Dwyer who is now out of a job. It's equally bad for the Packers, who have nothing to show for two of their biggest name free agent signings of 2005, O'Dwyer and safety Arturo Freeman.

With guard/tackle Atlas Herrion also on Sunday's cut list, it appears that Adrian Klemm and Will Whitaker apparently gained an edge, despite the futility of the offense with the pair in starting roles vs. New England.

Can they surprise us and fill the considerable shoes of Wahle or Rivera? If not, the outlook for the offense is suddenly and surprisingly bleak.

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