GREEN BAY - Coach Mike McCarthy might have to go through the Green Bay Packers locker room and start soliciting volunteers to play tackle because, three weeks into the season, his top five are injured.
It’s unclear who will be available Thursday night when the Packers host the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field.
But the two guys who started at tackle Sunday against Cincinnati — Bryan Bulaga and Kyle Murphy — both were on the injury report as non-participants in practice Monday. Their status was an estimation because the Packers won’t actually practice until Tuesday, but it’s a pretty good sign that both are banged up.
In his first start of the season, Bulaga aggravated the right ankle injury that had sidelined him the first two games, although it was not clear if he re-injured it on a specific play. He dropped out of the game in the fourth quarter and was seen on the sideline testing it, but he did not return.
Justin McCray filled in for Bulaga and would be the starter if the veteran were not able to play against the Bears.
But the Packers might have even bigger problems at left tackle. Kyle Murphy started for a second straight week in place of David Bakhtiari (hamstring) and made it through the entire game. But he was listed on the injury report with a foot injury and his status for the Bears is up in the air.
The Packers must have felt it was serious because they were in the process of signing Arizona practice-squad tackle Ulrick John to their 53-man roster, according to John's agent, Leonard Roth. It means they will have to clear a spot on the roster for the 6-5, 307-pound John, who has played in five games in three-plus seasons with Indianapolis, Miami and Arizona.
“Maybe it has something to do with playing Chicago on Thursday night,” McCarthy joked Monday. “Last year it was the running backs. This year it’s the tackles. So, you just work through it.
“You play the game and coming in here we had game-plan meetings this morning to kind of get everything cleaned up for players, players in the weight room and we had our special teams at noon and then a 1 o’clock team meeting. So we’re still working through it. There’s still some testing that’s being done. It’s a work in progress.”
About the only positive news McCarthy got was that Bakhtiari would have been able to do some work in practice Monday if the Packers had held a workout. He was designated as a limited participant, which was a step ahead of last week when he did not work at all.
McCarthy has yet to have Bakhtiari and Bulaga on the field at the same time and it has showed. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 13 times in three games, the most of anyone in the NFL this season.
Though he was encouraged by some of the pregame work his long list of injured players was able to perform Sunday, he’s still not sure who will be available when practice for the Bears starts Tuesday.
“Until I get them on the field tomorrow, and frankly I’m not even sure what we’re going to be able to do on the field tomorrow,” McCarthy said. “I’m going to have to adjust the practice because of the injuries coming out of yesterday’s game.
“I will know more tomorrow when we get down there.”
Asked if he would have to adjust his offense to account for the tackle injuries, McCarthy said:
“You’ve been to the last two games, right? So, we’ll continue down that path. Yes, we’ll continue down the path that we’ve been on the last two games.”