The Green Bay Packers dedicated their offseason to the idea of having their two best offensive linemen Ė Bryan Bulaga and Josh Sitton Ė protecting the blind side of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Then Bulaga partially tore his anterior cruciate ligament during the Packersí annual Family Night intra-squad scrimmage on Aug. 3, forcing plans to be reshuffled.
Fourth-round rookie David Bakhtiari took over at left tackle and started the next 16 games there, which now leaves the question where Bulaga fits into the picture once he returns next season?
According to Pro Football Focusí pass-blocking efficiency stat, Bakhtiari was the 18th best left or right tackle in the league in that capacity in allowing eight sacks and four quarterback hits.
Bulaga has been rehabbing at the IMG Academy in Florida for the past four months. His goal is to be back for training camp, but isnít sure if itíll come on the left or right side of the line.
ďI havenít even thought about it,Ē Bulaga said. ďObviously this season just got over. And thatís going to have to be something that Coach McCarthy and everybody upstairs will have to evaluate. Wherever they need me to play, Iíll play.Ē
After playing in all 16 games and starting 12 as a rookie in 2010, Bulaga has missed more games (27) than heís played (21) over the past three seasons. A hip injury sidelined him after nine starts in 2012, adding to the frustration of the early camp injury.
It led to undrafted rookie Don Barclay having to fill in at right tackle where he started 13 games this year after Bulagaís injury forced Bakhtiari to the left side.
ďI think itís difficult because itís two years back-to-back,Ē Bulaga said. ďI got the first half of the season last year, and then to get put on IR two weeks into training camp, itís just difficult. Itís difficult, and itís been something that obviously right when it happened it was a little bit difficult to mentally get past it but once I got past it, it was just knowing you have to go through the rehab and the same thing day after day after day to get your body and what you need ready to go for the next season.Ē