Slimmer Bulaga on track for career year
GREEN BAY – Bryan Bulaga didn’t have much interest discussing what might be the best season of his career while the Green Bay Packers sat on a 6-6 record, but the lack of wins shouldn’t diminish his individual success.
The Packers' offensive line hardly has been the problem this season, holding up well even while coach Mike McCarthy has called pass plays on more than 70 percent of their snaps. Bulaga is a big reason for that.
“I think Bryan is playing very, very well,” McCarthy said. “Bryan has had some hard luck with injuries in the past, and he’s a little lighter this year. But I think this is going to be his best season when it’s all said and done.”
Bulaga, the former first-round right tackle, is on track to play every game for the first time since his rookie season in 2010. It would be his first season starting every game. Even more, Bulaga has played 820 of the team’s 832 snaps (98.5 percent), missing only 12 snaps with a back injury against the Dallas Cowboys.
Bulaga was back on the field four days later against the Chicago Bears.
Much of his career has been dotted with injuries. He missed the final seven games of 2012 with a hip injury. He returned only to tear his ACL in the next preseason, missing all of 2013. Bulaga has been mostly healthy since then, though he missed four games with a strained MCL last season.
“This is probably the best I’ve felt going into a December in my career,” Bulaga said. “… It’s so far, so good. That’s just what it is. Injuries are part of the game. Everyone is dealing with something.
“It feels good to feel good. There’s no doubt about that.”
Bulaga credited McCarthy for presenting a flexible schedule each week designed to offer extra rest, especially in weeks following road, night games at Washington and Philadelphia. There has been more time spent in the conditioning, rehab and instruction center, which isn’t as physically taxing as the practice field.
Bulaga also slimmed down this offseason, dropping roughly 10 pounds. He said the small weight change has made a big difference.
“It feels better on my joints, that’s for sure,” Bulaga said. “Movement-wise, I feel a lot better moving around. So I think it’s been positive.”
Perhaps most impressive, Bulaga has played well without the benefit of playing next to veteran right guard T.J. Lang for the past three games. Rookie tackle Jason Spriggs has replaced Lang at guard for two of those games, which could have threatened to disrupt the chemistry of the offensive line.
Instead, the right side has held up.
“He’s been fine,” Bulaga said. “I think it’s the same thing for everybody, whenever someone gets put in a new position and there’s a learning curve, whatever, the guy playing next to him, there’s a learning curve for that guy too. Because they’ve got to get on the same page, and work out communication and stuff like that. There’s always going to be a learning curve, and adjustment period, but I think it’s gone smooth. I really do.”
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