Packers giving Barbre the ol' Colledge try

OTAs are the start of the guard competition between inconsistent Daryn Colledge — who never has sustained his quality play when challenged in the past — and untested Allen Barbre.

By now, Daryn Colledge should be entrenched on the Green Bay Packers' starting offensive line.

Instead, the 2006 second-round pick will have to fend off a challenge from 2007 fourth-round pick Allen Barbre. The two are sharing snaps at left guard with the first-team offense during organized team activities, and that likely will continue into training camp and the preseason.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy spun it as a way of getting the most out of his talent when game-day rosters are limited to 45 players: "Allen is in competition for one of the inside spots. Really, just like we've had the last two years, we'll continue to play different combinations of players there. Daryn Colledge, you'll probably see him at every position on the line."

Translated, that means Colledge hasn't done enough to take ownership at left guard. Translated in a different way, that means the Packers are giving the inconsistent Colledge another kick in the butt.

Colledge, with 30 career starts (including playoffs), has had several chances to put a stranglehold on the starting job, and has failed every time. He's come back strong after each demotion — or threatened demotion — only to put the starting job back in play by less-than-dominating performances.

Given that, McCarthy's decision to open the position to a training camp battle is a good one. If Colledge is a better player when challenged, then challenge him. Make him fight for the job for the next three-plus months heading into the regular season. There's no sense in letting him feel comfortable, especially in May.

"I would have liked to have been entrenched as the starter by year three, but Year 3 is just starting, we're only in OTAs right now," said Colledge, who was selected the team's most-improved player as a rookie, then survived one threatened demotion last year before getting benched during the Dallas game. "We're both going to compete to start. I was the starter last year, he was the rookie. And now, he wants to be the starter this year, and so do I."

Holding off the talented Barbre won't be easy. Strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson has lauded Barbre's offseason work. McCarthy called Barbre "one of the most athletic guys" on the offensive line, and athleticism is a must for guards in the zone scheme. Barbre played at the Division II level at Missouri Southern, so while he wasn't ready to play last season, he's poised to push — or beat out — Colledge this season.

"We're going to do as good evaluation as we can without pads on," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said, "to see where guys are at and see how they respond to different situations and different combinations of people playing next to them and those type of things."

The unsettled line situation last year certainly didn't help the offense, which struggled against the Giants' strong defensive line in the NFC championship game. This year, with a new quarterback and high expectations, McCarthy needs an offensive line he can count on for all 16 games. Perhaps the fire the coaches are lighting under Colledge will burn all season this time. If not, then it's time to move on.

Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com


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