The Green Bay Packers may be forced to shuffle their renovated offensive line after starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga reportedly suffered a season-ending knee injury during a weekend scrimmage.
Just three months ago, coach Mike McCarthy moved Bulaga from right tackle to left tackle, Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton from right guard to left guard, T.J. Lang from left guard to right guard and Marshall Newhouse, who started 28 games the past two seasons at left tackle, to right tackle.
McCarthy has said he moved Sitton to left guard to put the team's two best offensive linemen together on the same side of the line, protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers' blind side. Sitton and Bulaga had also played next to one another since the 2010 season.
All that may be up the air now: The Journal Sentinel, citing an unidentified source, reported that Bulaga tore an ACL and will miss the season. The Packers canceled practice Monday and no one from the team was available to comment.
(UPDATE: A source confirmed to Packer Report a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report that Bulaga, as feared, tore his ACL during the scrimmage. Because Bulaga felt well enough to get through the scrimmage, he is exploring his options in hopes that he can stay on the field. According to veteran NFL writer Hub Arkush at hubarkush.com, Bulaga sent the MRI to renowned surgeon James Andrews to get a second opinion.)
It's unclear when Bulaga was injured Saturday night, though he came up limping late on the No. 1 offense’s first possession. He took all the first-team snaps at left tackle during the scrimmage and was on the field-goal protection unit at the end of practice.
The Packers would appear to have two options at left tackle: They could move Newhouse, who took over for injured veteran Chad Clifton during the 2011 season, back to left tackle; or, they could insert promising rookie fourth-round pick David Bakhtiari there. Bakhtiari was impressive during the first week of practices in pads, competing at right tackle with Newhouse and Don Barclay.
When Bulaga suffered a season-ending hip injury last November, Barclay started the final six games (including playoffs) at right tackle but has been working at center and guard the last few days in camp.
The upheaval comes at a time when offensive line coach James Campen was pleased with the way the rejiggered starting five was coming together.
"You know, I think that, quite frankly, it's exceeded what I thought it would be at," Campen said late last week. "I think they've done a very good job with their footwork. They took advantage of the OTA periods to get adjusted to it. I think they're over that hump. It's just a few little things, new footwork they've got to work on, but I think they've adjusted very well."
The Packers still don't have 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod at their disposal. He remains on the active/physically unable to perform list because of the broken leg he suffered in December 2011.