PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush presents the first of five key matchups this week in advance of the Packers' Week Six game against the Rams at Lambeau Field.
Packers OTs Bryan Bulaga, Marshall Newhouse and Derek Sherrod vs. Rams DEs Chris Long, James Hall and Robert Quinn
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy had yet to determine at this writing just how he was planning on using Bulaga, Newhouse and Sherrod against the Rams in the wake of the "significant" hamstring injury that is expected to sideline starting veteran OLT Chad Clifton for at least several weeks. The best guess is that Bulaga, who is expected back in action Sunday after missing the last two games with a knee injury, will remain at right tackle, where he has developed into a solid starter, and Newhouse will start at left tackle in place of Clifton.
Newhouse did a more than adequate job replacing Clifton last Sunday after starting the game at right tackle in place of Bulaga. So did Sherrod at right tackle after Clifton went down. In his first sustained action, Green Bay's first-round draft pick looked increasingly comfortable last Sunday, gaining confidence while effectively taking on more one-on-one blocks as the game wore on. Don't be surprised if Sherrod spells Bulaga more than a little Sunday.
The Rams' ends could be tough to handle. Long, Hall and Quinn have combined for five of the team's eight sacks so far this season, with Long, who has blossomed since starting solely on the left side, leading the way with three sacks. Long, who has a high motor, has at least one sack in 10 of his last 15 games. Hall, an extremely underrated veteran with a tremendous work ethic, leads all Rams D-linemen with 11 tackles (two for loss). He ranked ninth in the NFC last season with 10½ sacks. Quinn, who was slowed by a knee injury early in training camp, has displayed some potent flashes the first quarter of the Rams' season, registering four QB hits in four games to go with one sack.