A thin wall of protection
Revamped Packers' line has to shield Tolzien
Friday, November 15, 2013 6:00 PM
GREEN BAY - For the first time since the strike-interrupted season of 1987, the Green Bay Packers are getting ready to work on their third starting quarterback in three straight games.
The Packers also might have a reshuffled offensive line protecting first-time NFL starter Scott Tolzien against the New York Giants on Sunday.
Injuries forced Green Bay to not only turn to Tolzien as the latest replacement for Aaron Rodgers but also resulted in significant changes on the line.
The Packers ended the loss to Philadelphia with different players at three of the five lineman positions than how they started the game.
But the outlook for the matchup with the Giants is somewhat encouraging as Green Bay (5-4) looks to end a two-game losing streak.
"We'll be fine," center Evan Dietrich-Smith said Friday. "It's a lot of cross-training (with the linemen). We've all been playing different spots for a long time. Everybody's kind of got to step up and switch around, but it's nothing new."
Right tackle Don Barclay, who suffered a knee injury against the Eagles, didn't practice this week and is questionable for Sunday.
Dietrich-Smith, who also left the last game with a knee injury, was held out of practice Friday but is probable.
Coach Mike McCarthy indicated the day off for Dietrich-Smith was planned after he practiced on a limited basis the previous two days.
"Just his workload yesterday, we felt it was best to shut him down today," McCarthy said. "I feel confident about what he's been able to accomplish on Wednesday and Thursday, but it was in his best interest not to practice today."
Dietrich-Smith appreciated the extra time to stay off his feet in his recovery from the injury that knocked him out in the second quarter of the game against the Eagles.
"Just take it easy, getting ready for Sunday," Dietrich-Smith said. "Mike kind of made the decision and just go with what the coach says."
"The plan all week has been try to get to Sunday, get healed up for Sunday," Dietrich-Smith said.
"I didn't do much this week, but mentally I've been on it. I've been feeling better every day, so I have a good feeling I'll be out there."
And despite not practicing much this week, Dietrich-Smith is confident he and Tolzien will be in sync as the Packers transition to yet another starting quarterback with Rodgers (broken collarbone) listed as out for a second straight game.
"I've been taking reps and stuff like that," Dietrich-Smith said. "It's just that everybody else kind of had to fill in for me this week. But we've been taking reps.
"It's not like I haven't done anything with the guy (Tolzien). I've been working with him all week."
Tozien, a third-year pro who was promoted from Green Bay's practice squad last week, took over at quarterback in the last game after Seneca Wallace suffered a groin injury in the Packers' first series.
As the game went on, Tolzien had to run the offense amid a series of changes on the offensive line.
Right guard T.J. Lang moved to center after Dietrich-Smith left. At the same time, Barclay slid inside to right guard, and Marshall Newhouse went in at right tackle.
After Barclay limped off while blocking on a Packers field goal early in the fourth quarter, undrafted rookie Lane Taylor - the only remaining lineman on the bench - had to go in at right guard.
"It's never ideal when anyone gets an injury, obviously," offensive line coach James Campen said this week.
"You'd obviously prefer to stay with the same guys. It's shuffling, but they just move and slide over and bump over and progress on."