Who will start as Packers' center?
"Jersey Al" Bracco
Tackle JC Tretter. Photo: Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
As the Packers begin their preparations for the 2014 season, their offensive line is in the best shape it's ever been in during Mike McCarthy's reign. There are four starting-quality offensive tackles and two guards ranked in the top 15 by Pro Football Focus.
Oh yes, and no one who has started an NFL game at center.
This could seem like a potential trouble spot, but don't worry, Packers fans, Mike McCarthy has it covered.
In recent comments at the NFL owners meeting. McCarthy stated that JC Tretter, Don Barclay, T.J. Lang and even Josh Sitton were possibilities.
Josh Sitton? Think of how bad things would have to be for the Packers to be forced to move Josh Sitton to center. Actually, strike that idea - don't think about it at all. Nothing good can come from that.
The thought of T.J. Lang at center isn't much more comforting. He was forced into action at center in the second quarter against the Lions on Thanksgiving day, and folks, it wasn't pretty.
I don't blame Lang, thrown in for an injured Evan Dietrich Smith with no preparation against one of the better defensive lines in the league. Add in that he had to play next to Marshall Newhouse, who had a hard enough time playing his regular tackle position, thrown in at right guard. I shudder just thinking about that game.
With a full preseason of practice, Lang would certainly be capable of doing a good job, but is that something the Packers really want? No.
Is it something Lang wants? Absolutely NO.
So it really comes down to Don Barclay and JC Tretter, two guys that never played the center position in college.
Oh, and there's also Garth Gerhart, who was, in fact, a center in college. He has spent two very brief stints on the Packers' practice squad and McCarthy didn't even bother mentioning his name, so...
Between Barclay and Tretter, I think it's obvious who the Packers would like to win the job. Tretter has the smarts (29 on his Wonderlic score) and mobility (a former tight end). The Packers would love to have those things at their disposal leading their offensive line.
Barclay, on the other hand, would help the team much more on the bench. He would be invaluable to the Packers as a game day active backup at 4-5 positions on the offensive line.
The one problem with Tretter, of course, is that he's never played a snap in the NFL yet. The Packers really liked what they saw of Tretter in practice over the last seven weeks of the season, but until they see him in game action in the preseason, they have to hedge their bets.
That's where the McCarthy comments on all the center "possibilities" on the current roster come in.
Beyond the guys mentioned above, I expect there to be some other candidates on the Packers roster before too long. There currently are 19 players with experience at center on the free agent market, most of whom can be signed as inexpensive insurance. Then in about five weeks, the Packers will have an opportunity to pick up some more insurance in the NFL draft. And of course, there's also the possibility the Packers wait until training camp cuts and sign someone at that point.
But as far as your starter at center, if things go according to plan for the Packers, it's JC Tretter.
Jersey Al Bracco (@JerseyALGBP on Twitter) is founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com and PackersTalk.com. He is also a co-host for Cheesehead Radio and draft analyst for DraftTek.com.