Rotating linemen nothing new for Packers

Packer Report's Todd Korth explains why Packers fans should not get too worked up over recent spat of injuries

Seeing center Scott Wells and Pro Bowl tackle Chad Clifton sitting out of Monday night's practice is troubling, but not the end of the world for the Green Bay Packers. The Packers' offensive line has been down this road before, like all of last season, and it survived.

I realize that's a bit optimistic after the line's woeful performance Saturday night in San Francisco, but here are a few reasons not to worry too much, even if the line struggles again this Friday night at Denver.

Though the Packers only have a handful of training camp practices remaining and about three weeks before their first regular season game, it should give veterans like Clifton and Wells time to heal up for the long grind ahead. Clifton doesn't practice much, anyway. Last year the ninth-year pro often sat out of practices leading up to game days and yet earned a trip to Hawaii in February. He has started 79 of the last 80 games since returning from a nasty pelvic injury that ended his 2002 season. Count on Clifton being there when the games are for real.

The Packers probably will hold Wells out the rest of the preseason after he sustained further damage to his trunk (torso) against the 49ers. The time off will hopefully allow him to heal so he'll be ready to return in time for the season opener Sept. 8 against Minnesota.

If Wells isn't ready to return in early September, the Packers have the depth along the line to survive. Last year, five different players saw extensive time along the interior of the offensive line, including Daryn Colledge, Junius Coston, Tony Moll, Jason Spitz and Wells. Yet, the Packers only allowed 19 total sacks all year. All of the above are expected to remain with the team this year, plus second-year guard Allen Barbre.

Furthermore, offensive line coach James Campen has proven that he is capable of getting young players ready in a hurry. He did it over and over last year and he has been working with fourth-round pick Josh Sitton, who appears to have nailed down the starting spot at right guard.

While the news out of chilly Clarke Hinkle Field wasn't all that good last night for the team's offensive line, it has proven in the recent past that it can overcome adversity in the form of injuries.

Todd Korth writes for and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

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