The Packers offensive line has played three games without right tackle Bryan Bulaga, with varying levels of success.
Sunday was not a high point. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ protection broke down multiple times during the Packers’ 17-3 win at the San Francisco 49ers. Backup Don Barclay, Bulaga’s replacement on the right side, was credited with allowing all three sacks, as well as a quarterback hit and hurry.
Associate head coach Tom Clements, who handles the offense’s play-calling, was asked whether he regretted not providing more help for Barclay with double-team or chip blocks.
“We do it when we think it’s necessary,” Clements said. “There are times maybe we should do it more. It’s always easy to say after the fact that you wish you would have done things a little differently. That happens every game, whether it’s a pass play or a run play. You sit back and you analyze, and you see what happened and try to make adjustments going forward.”
The Packers’ pass protection has been mostly solid this season. Before Sunday, they had allowed only three sacks in the first three games.
Barclay has had some success filling in for Bulaga. He didn’t allow a single sack in his first two games against the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs, two of the NFL’s best defenses. Still, Packers offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said Monday the pass protection must be better than it was against the 49ers.
“Going into each and every game,” Bennett said, “the goal obviously is to protect the football and protect our QB. Period. And so from a fundamental standpoint, we feel like we can certainly continue to improve in that area.”
Bulaga continues to rehab from knee surgery after tearing his MCL and meniscus during practice leading up to the Packers’ home opener against the Seahawks. Recovery time is usually six weeks, depending on the player.
When asked if Bulaga might be able to begin “football activity” this week, McCarthy was cautiously optimistic. No decision, McCarthy said, will be made until the team returns to the practice field Wednesday.
“I hope so,” McCarthy said. “I know Bryan feels like he's getting stronger and so forth. But really that decision will be made Wednesday morning.”
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