Packers extend starting guard Sitton, address O-line concerns

The Green Bay Packers agreed to an extension with starting right guard Josh Sitton that will keep him under contract with the team through 2016.

The team announced the deal on its website Friday but didn't disclose terms. Sitton, whose current contract expires at the end of this season, confirmed on his Twitter account that he will be a Packer for six more years. Sitton thanked the organization and fans for their support.

Sitton, a fourth-round draft pick out of Central Florida in 2008, has started every game for the Packers since the beginning of the 2009 season. According to the team, he is the only player on either side of the ball not to miss a snap over the past two years, including the playoffs.

"It's a big weight off my shoulders," Sitton said in comments distributed via the team's website. "That was what we said from the beginning, that we wanted to get it done before the season. That way I didn't have to deal with it, and I could just focus on playing football. That's what I do. I'm a football player."

Sitton's signing comes at the conclusion of a preseason that proved uneven along the offensive line. There are questions for the Super Bowl champions going into Thursday night's season opener against the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field.

"A couple times, we had some obvious mistakes," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "When a defensive lineman runs right through to the quarterback, that's not the way it's supposed to go."

The pass-protection problems aren't new, nor are they limited to the Packers' backups. In limited duty, Rodgers was sacked six times in the first three preseason games.

Green Bay gave up a total of 16 sacks in the preseason, second-most in the NFL behind Kansas City's 17. The running game has been largely absent in the preseason; the Packers are averaging 72 rushing yards per game, lowest in the league.

Green Bay lost left guard Daryn Colledge to free agency. His replacement, third-year pro T.J. Lang, won a training-camp battle with first-round pick Derek Sherrod, who was a tackle in college.

Veteran left tackle Chad Clifton is going into his 12th year and has chronic knee soreness that must be managed throughout the season. If he was hurt or his performance suddenly dropped off, it's not clear what the Packers' backup plan would be.

Sherrod might turn out to be the team's left tackle of the future, but he's still learning how to play in the NFL. And he still has to cross-train as the backup left guard.

"I feel very confident in myself and my abilities," Sherrod said. "Just going out there and playing, that's the only thing to do. That's football."

The Packers' other options at tackle are alarmingly light on experience, and things don't look much better at guard or center.

With the opener less than a week away, is McCarthy OK with his linemen?

"I'm extremely comfortable with the 53 players that we pick," McCarthy said. "You can ball them all up into that. It's about picking the best 53, and I'm looking forward to getting started on the Saints."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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