Green Bay Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga was knocked out of Thursday’s practice with a knee injury, and the severity is unknown.
Bulaga was listed as limited in practice on the team’s injury report. Left guard Josh Sitton wasn’t with Bulaga when the injury happened, but said “it sounded like his foot kind of got caught up” during drills.
“You’re always worried when somebody gets hurt,” Sitton said, “but I don’t have a clue what it is. I don’t know how much to worry, you know.”
Bulaga's medical history is plenty worrisome. The former first-round pick missed the entire 2013 season with a torn ACL in his left knee suffered during the Packers’ annual Family Night scrimmage. He also tore his MCL during last season’s opener at the Seattle Seahawks and missed the next week’s game at home against the New York Jets.
At this point, there is no direct connection to those previous injuries. Offensive line coach James Campen said he didn’t notice Bulaga leave practice, and he had yet to speak with his right tackle when he met with reporters Thursday afternoon.
After returning from the torn MCL, Bulaga was able to stay healthy last season. He was part of an offensive line that started the final 16 games together, including the playoffs. He did leave a December game at the Buffalo Bills early with concussion symptoms, but he returned the next week.
Campen called any notion Bulaga may be unable to play Sunday against the Seahawks a “hypothetical” and wouldn’t indulge in the possibility. Still, it’s clear Don Barclay would fill the void if such a scenario happened. Barclay replaced Bulaga during the 2013 season, starting 14 games at right tackle. He finished the Packers’ practice Thursday receiving first-team reps at right tackle.
Barclay missed last season with a torn ACL in training camp and has been working his way back into playing condition.
“I feel prepared,” Barclay said. “Coach has done a good job at getting me reps all over the board at both tackles and guard. Yeah, I feel fine.”
It was a rough start to the preseason for Barclay, who allowed four sacks, two holding penalties and a safety in the first two games. But he cleared a major hurdle midway through training camp, Campen said.
Before the Packers’ third preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Campen noticed, Barclay started showing more explosion coming out of his stance. He was more comfortable with his movements, “snapping things off quicker,” Campen said.
Barclay is still improving in practice, Campen said, but he’s already come a long way. He allowed no sacks in the final two preseason games.
Campen, a former Packers center, never tore his ACL during a seven-year NFL career, but Barclay isn’t his first player to recover from a torn ACL. He remembers former Packers tackle Mark Tauscher taking several weeks to shake off the rust after returning from a torn ACL suffered in 2008. So he wasn’t surprised when Barclay needed a transitional period.
“When (Tauscher) came back from his,” Campen said, “it took him about six weeks. Then all the sudden, he’s back. There’s a time period there, and you forget. In our minds – and even mine too – you get caught thinking, ‘Well, gee whiz, it’s been since last year’s training camp. Things should be well.’ And it is well, it just comes a point when things start locking in again.
“(Barclay’s) did after a couple ball games, and he’s improved ever since then. So he beat Mark by four weeks.”
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