If Bryan Bulaga is ready to go Sunday against the New York Jets, then Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy has no qualms about sending his starting right tackle back onto the field.
Bulaga was listed as questionable on Friday's injury report with the sprained MCL that limited him during both days of practice this week. He exited last Thursday's 36-16 loss to Seattle in the second quarter and did not return.
Historically, the Packers have taken a conservative approach when it comes to handling injured players, but McCarthy said Bulaga's opinion will be factored into whether the Packers and team doctor Patrick McKenzie give him the green light for Sunday's home opener at Lambeau Field.
The loss to Seattle was Bulaga's first regular-season appearance since Nov. 4, 2012. He has been wearing a brace over his surgically reconstructed left knee, the same one where he suffered the MCL injury against the Seahawks.
"I think our medical department tilts that way, but the reality is you're only given 16 games," said McCarthy of the organization's approach. "And I know from a player's perspective, they want to play in every single game. If Bryan Bulaga feels that he can go in this game, that'll be a part of the decision. But we're not saving anybody for next week or so forth. If Bryan cannot go, it will be clearly from a medical standpoint that we don't feel it's in his best interest."
McCarthy said Bulaga was a little sore following the two practices, but that's what the organization anticipated. His status likely will be determined in the Packers' final practice on Saturday, which is closed to the media.
That's when the coaching staff will be looking to see how he performs in the move-the-ball portion of practice and if he's able to keep pace with the offense. If Bulaga can't play, McCarthy confirmed 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod would make his first NFL start.
The Packers came under heavy scrutiny last season after Aaron Rodgers was lost for seven games with a broken collarbone, but they still might be onto something in how they handle players, particularly those like tight end Jermichael Finley and Nick Collins, who suffered significant neck injuries.
The New York Giants originally cleared running back David Wilson from his neck injury only to come to the conclusion it was career-ending days into training camp.
"I just think medically people are a lot more conservative today," McCarthy said. "I think the landscape is a challenge for every medical group. I think it's only natural, but at the end of the day that's why you have the process. That's why it's set up the way it is on who makes those decisions.
"From Ted Thompson and myself as far as you look at our players, we're never going to jeopardize a player's future for one game. But the importance of playing in every game is important."
Brandon Bostick was staking a claim for the starting tight end spot prior to sustaining a slightly fractured fibula in the team's second preseason game against St. Louis.
After taking part in his first padded practice in nearly a month Thursday, the Packers listed Bostick as probable to make his regular-season debut against the Jets.
Richard Rodgers started all four preseason games and the regular-season opener against Seattle, but Bostick could lend a hand after working extensively in the 2-minute offense in training camp.
In his first NFL season in 2013, Bostick had seven catches for 120 yards and a touchdown in 11 games before breaking his foot in December. At 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, the Packers hope to benefit from the matchup problems Bostick's size creates for defenses.
"Brandon is a guy who has some athleticism," tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot said. "In the pass game, once he gets his hands on the ball he's a legitimate threat just because of his speed and athleticism, and he's big and physical. ... He's got some experience playing now. It'd be nice to just get him for a solid stretch and see how far he can go."
Running back Eddie Lacy (concussion) and cornerback Demetri Goodson (concussion) are probable.
Fine by me
Although Lacy plans to revert to his traditional helmet, inside linebacker Jamari Lattimore gave a ringing endorsement for the Riddell SpeedFlex helmet designed to prevent concussions.
After suffering a concussion last week against Seattle, Lacy said he didn't like the way the helmet fit and will switch to his previous one prior to Sunday's game.
Lattimore, tight end Ryan Taylor and left tackle David Bakhtiari switched to the helmet this season. So far, it's worked fine for Lattimore, who was intrigued by the science of the helmet.
"Sometimes it feels like I barely have it on. That's a plus," Lattimore said. "Sometimes heavy helmets can have wear and tear on your neck. But it feels good to me."
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