GREEN BAY — The one area more than any other the Green Bay Packers have been able to rely on during their up-and-down season has been the offensive line.
That might not be the case anymore.
The team lost starting right guard T.J. Lang (ankle) and left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) to injuries during Sunday’s 47-25 loss at Tennessee, and it’s possible neither of them will be ready for this Sunday night’s game at Washington.
With center JC Tretter (knee) having missed the past two games as well, the Packers would be down to only one reserve lineman if Tretter isn’t ready to return, Don Barclay has to play for Lang and rookie second-round pick Jason Spriggs has to start for Bakhtiari.
The only other offensive lineman on the 53-man roster is rookie sixth-round pick Kyle Murphy, who has been inactive for the team’s first nine games.
“You always want the players that we have out there because obviously they’re, you know, the best of the best,” offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said of losing Lang and Bakhtiari. “We feel like our guys that went in relief of those guys, they also shared that mindset (of), ‘When I get that opportunity to step out on that field, there can be no dropoff.’ That’s the mindset and that’s the goal.”
Lang had already been playing through a painful hip condition, and early indications were, despite his tough-guy approach, he’s unlikely to be ready for the Redskins. Bakhtiari said in the locker room Monday he was “day to day” after putting a brace on his knee during the game but failing to finish.
The training staff “figured, ‘We should shut you down,’ ” Bakhtiari said. “Hopefully (I can) go out and play Sunday and give the team the best that I’ve got.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he had no information on either player because he hadn’t met with the medical staff as of noon Monday.
When inside linebacker Jake Ryan, the team’s leading tackler entering Sunday’s game, left with an ankle injury before the Packers’ first defensive snap, it wasn’t exactly an encouraging sign. When the defense gave up a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play, it was even worse.
And when fellow inside linebacker Blake Martinez spoke in the locker room Monday, he delivered another bad sign —sounding as if Ryan might not be back this week. The only other true inside linebacker on the roster is Joe Thomas.
“It’s definitely huge to lose a guy that’s on the starting defense, but we have the motto that the next man up has to be the best man up,” Martinez said. “Having that, I think Joe is a great linebacker. It’s definitely hard to have Jake go out and it’s going to be hard not to have him in there, because I’m used to playing with him all the time and we’ve been growing that great chemistry. But I also have that great chemistry with Joe, as well.
“Moving forward, I think we’ll be just as good as we were with me and Jake.”
McCarthy dismissed the notion that the Packers’ defensive swoon has coincided with the absence of star outside linebacker Clay Matthews. “It’s not about one player. Never will be. There’s so much more to our football team than just our star players,” McCarthy said. … Offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett acknowledged wide receiver/running back Ty Montgomery was on a rep count for the second straight game because of complications from sickle-cell trait. Montgomery played just 22 snaps, carrying three times for 9 yards and catching two passes for 11 yards. … McCarthy said tight end Jared Cook, out since Sept. 25 with a high ankle sprain, made progress last week. “I think we’re definitely closer there,” McCarthy said.