After a strong training camp, Bulaga’s return to regular-season action lasted all of 19 plays.
On the fourth play of the fourth possession of the Green Bay Packers’ loss at Seattle on Thursday night, Bulaga went down with what coach Mike McCarthy called a knee sprain.
“As of right now, we do not fear a major injury,” McCarthy said. “So, that’s kind of where it stands. Until we get back and get the scans and everything, we’ll know better but, right now, the trainers’ words were they do not fear a major injury.”
When Bulaga sustained a knee sprain in 2011, he returned after missing two games. McCarthy is scheduled to talk to reporters on Friday afternoon
In another dose of bad news, star running back Eddie Lacy sustained a concussion, presumably during a collision with Kam Chancellor after a 12-yard completion in the fourth quarter. Lacy, who missed most of one game and all of another with a concussion last season, has been wearing Riddell’s new SpeedFlex helmet, which was designed to reduce concussions.
Bulaga, the team’s starting right tackle, was injured while blocking Seattle defensive end Cliff Avril. Bulaga was pinballed around by rookie tight end Richard Rodgers and Seattle defensive lineman Michael Bennett, who was working to the outside of right guard T.J. Lang. McCarthy said the “fit” of Rodgers’ block on the play “wasn’t clean” with Bulaga.
“That sucks. I didn’t really see the play but, obviously, he’s a guy who’s had some bad luck the last couple of years,” Lang said. “He’s one of the hardest working guys we’ve got and seeing him go down is never easy. Talking with him, I think he sounded pretty confident that he won’t be out long. He’s a guy that we need, he’s a good player for us.
The injury made the Packers dangerously thin on the offensive line. Derek Sherrod entered at right tackle and gave up a sack on fourth-and-5 with the Packers in comeback mode and a sack/strip that resulted in a safety as the Seahawks pulled away. The team came to Sherrod’s defense afterward. On the fourth-down play, for instance, Rodgers said Sherrod expected help from running back James Starks, who instead ran a route over the middle of the field.
“Derek did a good job,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “It definitely affected things initially. We wanted to make sure Derek got his feet underneath him. He hadn’t played for an extensive time in a while, but I thought he did a really good job.”
With Bulaga out and Don Barclay on injured reserve, the Packers might have to make a roster move. The other linemen on the roster are guard Lane Taylor and center Garth Gerhart; the only other tackle is practice squad player Jeremy Vujnovich.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.