Guarded optimism

The Green Bay Packers will soon have a guard controversy, and that probably will be a good thing for the future of the offensive line. As the line struggles to gain continuity, rookies Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz and Tony Moll will be auditioning throughout this season to see who will start on a consistent basis next year and years to come.

That's what coach Mike McCarthy hinted to the media during his press conference Monday, and that appears to be in the best interest of the offense at this time. While most teams would frown on playing with different linemen throughout the season, in this case, it makes sense. The Packers are playing to win playoff games in the future, not this season, so why not plug in the three rookies in between veteran tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, and center Scott Wells?

"As far as those young guys – Spitz, Colledge and Tony Moll – we'll really play the best two of the three," McCarthy said. "It depends who is playing the best at that time. Their experience is all similar. We're going to keep looking for the right combination."

In other words, whoever plays the best of the three this season will get a chance to start on a consistent basis later this season, or heading into next year.

McCarthy praised Colledge, the team's second-round draft pick this year, after his performance in Green Bay's 31-24 win at Detroit.

"He played much better this week," McCarthy said. "I feel like Daryn is really improving. I see a player that is starting to get more comfortable. He had an excellent challenge yesterday. It was a good challenge for us.

Colledge again started in place of rookie Jason Spitz, who's been sidelined since suffering a thigh injury in the season opener. Spitz could be back this week, which is a long one since the Packers don't play until Monday at Philadelphia. Moll has started the first three games at right guard.

When Spitz does return, look for McCarthy to platoon him and Colledge until a clear-cut favorite emerges. Moll had a great game against Pro Bowl defensive tackle Shaun Rodgers on Sunday. It certainly appears that he has his position locked up for now, but the Packers started with Colledge at left guard when training camp opened before he was demoted. The coaching staff probably will give Colledge every opportunity to win his job back, though, Spitz will challenge. Stay tuned.

If neither of the three rookies shows that they can handle playing on a week to week basis, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Packers sought out another player or two to challenge for one of the guard spots next season. For now, the auditions are ongoing, and it will be up to the three rookies to make the most of their opportunities. Continuity will have to take a back seat.


Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.


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