Green Bay Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga’s knee injury doesn’t threaten his entire season, but he’s unlikely to return for several weeks.
An NFL source confirmed the NFL Network's report that Bulaga had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in addition to the sprained medial collateral ligament he sustained in practice Thursday. It could sideline the starting right tackle anywhere from four to six weeks.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy already has ruled Bulaga out of Sunday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks. McCarthy’s announcement came Friday, one day after Bulaga left practice during individual drills.
McCarthy did not expound on the severity of Bulaga’s injury, and he would not name a starting right tackle for Sunday.
“It’s never a good time in the week for it to happen, obviously,” McCarthy said of Bulaga’s injury. “But you wouldn’t think — it’s Thursday practice during individual drill. But it’s football. It’s unfortunate and, we’ll deal with it.”
Left guard Josh Sitton wasn’t near Bulaga when he injured his knee Thursday, but he said “it sounded like his foot kind of got caught up” during drills. Noncontact knee injuries are often troublesome, and Bulaga has a history of knee problems.
Bulaga missed the entire 2013 season after tearing his ACL during the Packers’ annual Family Night scrimmage. He also missed one game after spraining his MCL during last season’s opener against the Seahawks.
Other than the MCL sprain, Bulaga was a picture of health during his first season back from the ACL tear. He started the final 16 games last season, counting playoffs. He was rewarded with a five-year, $33.75 million contract in March.
One option for Bulaga could be injured reserve with a designation to return. Bulaga would be unable to practice for six weeks. As of Saturday afternoon, the Packers had not decided to go that route.
While McCarthy wouldn’t name Bulaga’s replacement, the most likely candidate appears to be Don Barclay. He filled in for Bulaga in 2013, playing well while starting 14 games at right tackle. Other candidates include J.C. Tretter and Josh Walker.
Barclay is coming off his own major knee injury. He missed the entire 2014 season after tearing his ACL in last year’s training camp. He struggled early in the Packers’ preseason, but his play gradually has evened out.
“When he first came back,” Sitton said of Barclay, “you could tell he wasn’t quite himself, and he seems to be back to where he was now. So he’s all good.”
—Weston Hodkiewicz contributed.