Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This year is a pivotal one for Allen Barbre

(The following is my column for this week's Newton County News.)

A quick examination of Wisconsin newspaper websites and sports radio programs would give an outsider the idea that the failure of the Green Bay Packers to reach the Super Bowl last year can be explained in two words- Allen Barbre.

Now, just how one offensive lineman can be blamed for a team’s failure is something that is not exactly clear, but to read the newspapers and Packer fanzines and listen to the blowhards who so frequently populate sports talk, it seems that the burden of the Packers’ so-so season has been placed on the East Newton High School graduate’s shoulders.

The anti-Barbre sentiment continued after the final snap of the 2009 season, with some fans calling for his quick departure from Lambeau Field. In late May, Pro Football Weekly listed Barbre along with several others as veterans who could be cut before opening day.

But as folks who watched him star for the Patriots and for Missouri Southern State University knows, the word surrender is not in Allen Barbre’s vocabulary and thanks to his own strong work ethic Allen appears to be an important part of Green Bay’s plans for the upcoming season.

As off-season workouts continued this week, Packer Coach Mike McCarthy, the only man whose opinion matters when it comes to evaluating the former Patriot, presented Allen Barbre with the best birthday present an offensive lineman could hope for. The following quote comes verbatim from Coach McCarthy’s press conference on Tuesday, Allen’s 26th birthday.

“Allen Barbre has been working exclusively on the left side. He has been working at left guard and at left tackle. Allen has matured through his experience last year, both in the weight room and I feel on the field. I think he has done an excellent job at left guard. He has done some very good things. We have looked at him on some special teams, so we’re just trying to create opportunities for all of the players, particularly Allen, following suit with not exactly what we did with Spencer Hayner, but more in that mindset. We feel we have some very talented football players and we know there is going to be some players that we are going to have to make some tough decisions on. We want to make sure we have as many opportunities throughout for as many guys that have that flexibility. You see Allen Barbre running down on a kickoff cover, it’s pretty impressive. He’s had a good offseason.”

This year’s exhibition season should prove to be a vital one for Barbre. A string of solid performances will either put him in good stead at Green Bay, or will convince another team to take a crack at him if he is not on the Packers’ opening day roster.

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