Packers' Bryan Bulaga returns from flu, says ankle 'getting better'

Ryan Wood
Packers News
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Green Bay Packers tackle Bryan Bulaga (75) stretches during organized team activities May 23, 2017, in Green Bay.

GREEN BAY – Bryan Bulaga said he doesn’t know where he acquired the flu that knocked him out this week, but the Green Bay Packers right tackle's illness was enough to temporarily take his mind off his sprained right ankle.

Bulaga was away from Lambeau Field on Wednesday and Thursday with what he said were “flu-like” symptoms. That meant spending “a lot of time in the bathroom,” Bulaga said. He returned to team facilities Friday.

With the flu behind him, Bulaga’s ankle is the biggest hurdle he must clear to play Sunday night when the Packers travel to the Atlanta Falcons. The benefit of being sick, perhaps, is Bulaga had more time this week to be off his feet, even if it’s because he was in bed. Bulaga said it’s difficult to gauge how his ankle feels without practicing, but more rest certainly couldn’t hurt.

“The ankle is getting better,” Bulaga said. “As time passes, I feel like it’s getting stronger, it’s getting better. So kneeling on the ground, throwing up might’ve helped it. So we’ll say that.”

Bulaga is in jeopardy of missing his second game to open the Packers season. He said he wanted to play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, but team doctors decided to remove that possibility.

When he wasn’t being sick this week, Bulaga had access to the Packers’ game plan via his iPad. He was able to watch film of Packers practices and Falcons games.

Of course, his flu didn’t allow for much study time this week.

“That’s been a little bit difficult,” Bulaga said. “But today was a good day to get in. It’s a little bit of a review day today, so you get to kind of see what the whole plan is. I mean, you have your iPad, and I went through that a little bit at home. But you kind of go through, you watch practice, you see what the base plan is and kind of go from there.”

The Packers are nursing ailments with both starting tackles. Bulaga was listed as questionable on Friday's injury report, while left tackle David Bakhtiari was questionable with a hamstring injury. Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks is still in the concussion protocol and listed as doubtful, while the Packers officially ruled backup left tackle Jason Spriggs out because of a hamstring injury.

The injuries to their starting tackles prompted the Packers to call up tackle Adam Pankey from their practice squad. McCarthy said he liked how Pankey practiced this week.

“He’s very athletic,” McCarthy said.

If Bulaga doesn’t start Sunday, they should be able to get through the game with Bakhtiari and backup right tackle Kyle Murphy. If either has an injury, their tackle rotation would have a significant problem.

It’s unlikely the Packers would be comfortable with Pankey as their primary backup at left tackle. Bulaga has played left tackle before, and would probably be their preference if Bakhtiari’s hamstring worsened in the game. Perhaps the Packers could have Bulaga on their active game-day roster, but only play him in an emergency.

Bulaga said the team hasn’t even mentioned that possibility to him this week.

“I don’t know what they would do in game,” Bulaga said.

Bulaga also doesn’t know if he’d be able to play Sunday, even in an emergency. He’s three weeks removed from spraining his ankle. Although he hasn’t had a setback, Bulaga said he dealt with a lot of swelling.

“I felt like we had pretty steady progression,” Bulaga said. “When it happened, I just had a ton of swelling. More swelling than I’ve had in a sprained ankle. So it was the fact of trying to push all that swelling out, and the amount of time that we had just to get it ready.”

NOTE: Packers tight end Martellus Bennett was fined $9,115 for his two-handed shove of the Seahawks’ K.J. Wright. Neither Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane nor Packers receiver Davante Adams were fined for the first-quarter scuffle that got Lane ejected.

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