GREEN BAY, Wis. — Bryan Bulaga and the Green Bay Packers held out hope as long as they could. Now it’s official. Bulaga will have surgery to repair the torn ACL in his left knee, ending the season of the team’s starting left tackle before it ever started.
Bulaga sought a second medical opinion, but that information confirmed what the Packers’ medical staff had diagnosed.
“It’s definitely the right decision,” coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday. “If you look at the history of the way we’ve treated players, we’ve never advised a player to take the harder road. At the end of the day, it is the player’s decision.”
Bulaga informed the team that he will undergo surgery next week.
Bulaga’s injury happened on the seventh play of Saturday night’s intrasquad scrimmage, but the 24-year-old continued to participate throughout the remainder of the practice.
McCarthy was amazed at the way Bulaga has continued to be active, despite the injury. That includes Bulaga doing one-legged squats the day after the injury occurred.
“You see him walking down the hall, he doesn’t look like a man that’s getting ready to have knee surgery,” McCarthy said. “I think for everybody involved, and most importantly for Bryan, I think there was just some hope that maybe it wasn’t as bad as the initial opinion. You never ultimately know until you go in there, but all indications look that he needs to have the surgery.”
To eliminate any potential doubt, McCarthy stated that if Bulaga does have the surgery next week as scheduled, “I would say I don’t see him playing this year.”
This is Bulaga’s second consecutive season-ending injury. In 2012,
Bulaga suffered a hip injury in November and missed Green Bay’s final
The Packers now have to go to “Plan B,” as Thompson referred to it. That plan has rookie fourth-round pick David Bakhtiari playing left tackle in Bulaga’s place.
Bulaga was the main piece in McCarthy’s decision three months ago to flip the entire offensive line around. Bulaga moved from right tackle to left tackle, being charged with the important task of protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ blind side. Last season, Rodgers was sacked more than any quarterback in the NFL. After signing Rodgers to the richest contract in league history this past offseason, Green Bay had to look for some new way of keeping its star quarterback upright.
Bakhtiari could have some competition to take over Bulaga’s spot. Marshall Newhouse had been the Packers’ left tackle since Week 4 of the 2011 season, but he was just moved to right tackle and it seems like that’s where he’ll stay. Newhouse was already locked in a battle for a starting job with Don Barclay at right tackle.
“How we end up, time will answer that,” McCarthy said Tuesday. “I’m in charge of creating opportunities. I’m in charge of creating the culture and the structure, but it ultimately comes down to the players. The players have got to step up and they’ve got to take advantage of these opportunities to win these jobs.”