As he has done all offseason, Bryan Bulaga lined up as the starting right tackle during the Green Bay Packers’ final minicamp practice on Thursday, an indication he is ready to resume his playing career after missing the last 1 ˝ years with injuries.
“Bryan’s done a lot of good things and he’s stronger,” said Packers coach Mike McCarthy.
“Bryan’s so consistent. He’s a very good worker, very diligent, very anal in his approach, and he’s the ultimate pro. I thought he had a very good offseason.”
Bulaga partially tore his ACL at the Packers’ Family Night scrimmage last August and missed the entire 2013 season. He missed the second half of the 2012 season with a fractured hip.
It appears the only lingering effect from those injuries is a brace he has worn during offseason practices on his left knee.
Bulaga has avoided talking to the media since January, and through a team spokesman declined a request for an interview on Thursday.
But his teammates speak highly of his work ethic and readiness to return to action in the NFL trenches.
GALLERY: Packers minicamp practice
“That’s not a new face, that’s just a re-occurring old face,” said left tackle David Bakhtiari. “He’s been around here for five years. That’s a good amount of time. Bryan’s a hell of a player so I expect him to play at a very high level, regardless of if he hasn't played in a year-and-a-half.”
Based on practice reps, Bulaga’s primary competition at right tackle will come from 2013 starter Don Barclay, who has lined up with the No. 2 offensive line during the offseason.
But even Barclay is impressed by Bulaga’s showing in practice.
“He looks great,” said Barclay. “I think physically he looks good. Mentally, he’s here and ready to go. He comes in here and puts in work every day. I think he’s excited to get out there.”
Bulaga’s reluctance to talk about his knee rehabilitation this offseason might stem from not wanting to draw attention to himself, according to Packers offensive line coach James Campen.
“He’s always been that type of guy,” said Campen. “His makeup is to work hard. If his name isn’t being called, it’s a good thing. All linemen don’t like to have their name in the paper too much.”
Campen said Bulaga has made steady progress this offseason.
In an indication the Packers aren’t concerned about Bulaga re-injuring his knee, the 2010 first-round draft pick was lining up as a linebacker during a walk-through session on Thursday and dropping back in pass coverage.
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