Two newsworthy developments took place Monday when the Green Bay Packers reassembled for training camp: Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews was sidelined for two weeks by a strained hamstring, while rookie offensive linemen Bryan Bulaga was thrown into the competition for the starting left guard position.
First things first...
Matthews suffered the injury during Saturday night's Family Night scrimmage, and coach Mike McCarthy indicated the injury was similar to the one that limited Matthews for a good portion of last spring and summer. McCarthy said "I would definitely estimate it being at least two weeks."
In the meantime, look for Brad Jones and Brandon Chillar to work as the first-team outside linebackers when the Packers are in their base defense. It goes almost without saying that Matthews is critical part of the Packers defense, but I wouldn't get worked up about a two-week absence in August.
On the other hand, I am going to get a little worked up about the Bulaga move. But first, let's get McCarthy's full explanation:
We felt to this point that he has earned an opportunity to compete for a starting position. Our intent throughout the spring and going into training camp was to work him exclusively at left tackle. I have been very impressed with his body of work to this point, and we're going to give him an opportunity to compete with Daryn Colledge and Allen Barbre at the left guard position.
At this point, I can't tell you if this move is more about Bulaga's good work or a reflection on the job that Colledge, Barbre and Jason Spitz have done at left guard. But as we've discussed before, the Packers have been unable to resist the siren of shuffling young offensive linemen based on short-term need. In some cases -- Colledge chief among them -- the constant change has limited overall development.
I understand the argument of getting your best five offensive linemen on the field, but we all know Bulaga is the Packers' left tackle of the future. It's by far the most difficult offensive line position to fill, and everything we can see about Bulaga suggests he can handle it. So why oversaturate him with a temporary move to left guard? I don't have an answer to that question -- unless his arms really are too short.