GREEN BAY — The offensive line has been one of the most consistent units for the Packers this season, and T.J. Lang and David Bakhtiari have played a big part in that.
The two veterans haven’t missed a start on a line that’s been asked to do a lot through the first nine games of the regular season with the Packers leaning more on the passing game.
Last Sunday, however, the Packers had to press on against Tennessee without either player after Lang exited in the first quarter with a foot injury and Bakhtiari left in the third quarter with a knee injury.
Bakhtiari returned to practice in a limited capacity on Wednesday, while Lang sat out completely, creating more opportunities for their backups, Jason Spriggs and Don Barclay.
Spriggs finished Sunday’s game against the Titans at left tackle with Barclay replacing Lang at right guard. If Lang or Bakhtiari can’t go against Washington, the Packers have no qualms about either Spriggs or Barclay stepping in Sunday.
“We have a lot of confidence in those guys,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “They’ll have a good week of preparation and then we’ll see what Dave and T.J.’s availability is.”
Bakhtiari, who said he’s “taking it day-to-day,” has started 59 of 62 games at left tackle since the Packers drafted him in the fourth round out of Colorado in 2013.
Lang has been an ironman for years, missing only two games since becoming a starter in 2011. He’s been dealing with a hip injury for the past month, but he’s missed only a handful of offensive snaps.
Barclay has been in this situation before. The fifth-year veteran has made 26 starts for the Packers since making the team as an undrafted free agent out of West Virginia in 2012.
A bulk of that work has come at right tackle, but the selection of Spriggs and Kyle Murphy in the 2016 draft has allowed him to take more reps inside.
Barclay ended up playing 74 snaps against Tennessee after Lang left on the first play of the second offensive series. It was the most extensive action Barclay has seen inside in a regular-season game, but his reps in practice smoothed the transition.
“It makes you a lot more comfortable,” Barclay said. “You’ve been taking a lot of reps at a certain area or position, you start to form that trust and being comfortable there. Whether I was taking center or guard (reps), it’s kind of intertwined together; shorter area and blocking people. When you’re a tackle, it’s a little bit different. I’ve kind of settled in there getting these reps over the past 10, 11 weeks.”
Barclay played extensively during the preseason due to mounting injuries at the position, which he believes helped him adjust to the interior line.
His ability to play all five positions has been valuable for the Packers, especially during the first two months of the season when he served as the primary backup to both center JC Tretter and left guard Lane Taylor with Corey Linsley (hamstring) on the physically unable to perform list.
“What he’s done over the years is tough to play center, guard, tackle. It’s not easy,” said Taylor of Barclay. “It’s not even easy going left side and right side. It’s been huge that he’s been willing and open to help out wherever he can.”
The Packers’ offensive line has been tested by injuries recently with Tretter sustaining a knee injury on the second-to-last play against Atlanta two weeks ago.
Fortunately for Green Bay, Linsley was eligible to be activated and has started the past two games at center, the position he manned during his first two NFL seasons.
For years, the Packers’ offensive line has taken pride in its reserves being able to step up when needed.
“It’s big,” Bakhtiari said. “I think we have a bunch of starters on this offensive line and I’m very confident with whoever we go out with that are in the front five.”
If the Packers need to turn to either Spriggs or Barclay, they’re confident the linemen will respond just like Tretter, Linsley and Taylor have over the last 10 months.
“I think guys have stepped up over the years,” Barclay said. “Guys have filled that role and I’m going to try to fill that. If that’s the case, I think ever since I’ve been here, guys have stepped in. We’re excited about it, we’re going to attack it whatever happens.”