Packers Roundup: Offensive line improving into Saturday's night game against SFWisconsin Sports
-- The Green Bay Packers expect to take a much-improved offensive line into their Saturday night playoff game at San Francisco.
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers expect to take a much-improved offensive line into their Saturday night playoff game at San Francisco.
The line allowed a league-high 51 sacks to quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the regular season – and 21 of those were in the first five weeks, when the Packers had a rough 2-and-3 start. The offensive line was just getting into a rhythm in early November when right tackle Bryan Bulaga went out for the season with a hip injury. But coach Mike McCarthy says he likes the way that rookie Don Barclay has stepped in. And in late December, Evan Dietrich-Smith replaced veteran Jeff Saturday at center, providing a boost in speed and strength. At the same time, the Packers’ running game has improved. Guard T.J. Lang says the offensive line has played well lately – and it continues to grow with the players it has now. On Saturday, the Packer line will face one of the league’s toughest front sevens which features 49’ers pass rusher Aldon Smith and bruising lineman Justin Smith. Lang says it will be a quite a challenge, but he and his teammates will be up to it.
Running back James Starks might get his first playing time in five weeks, when the Packers take on San Francisco in their NFC divisional playoff game on Saturday night. The third-year Starks is getting over a bruised knee suffered on December second. Running backs coach Alex Van Pelt said Starks looked good at practice yesterday – and coach Mike McCarthy is not saying how he might use Starks if he’s ready to go against the 49’ers. Rookie DuJuan Harris has emerged as Green Bay’s featured running back over the past few weeks. But Starks is seven inches taller and 15 pounds heavier than Harris – and he could provide a more physical presence at that spot. Van Pelt says he’s still trying to determine how to include Starks in the mix.
Packer receivers Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin, and Randall Cobb all sat out of yesterday’s practice. Nelson has been battling ankle problems, but he’s due back at practice today – and he’s expected to play against the 49’ers. Cobb has flu-like symptoms, but he’s expected to play as well. Boykin is questionable, as he tries to get over an ankle injury. Linebacker Clay Matthews was limited yesterday with a knee problem, and rookie linebacker Dezman Moses was limited with a bad hamstring. Both are expected to be okay for the 49’er game. Safety Jerron McMillian missed his second straight practice with a personal matter. He’s due back today.