Clifton hurting, Bulaga might start at LT for Pack

Veteran Chad Clifton remains the Green Bay Packers’ starting

left tackle.

That doesn’t mean he’ll start against the Chicago Bears next

Monday night.

Clifton was benched in favor of first-round rookie Bryan Bulaga

during Sunday’s victory over the Buffalo Bills, and Packers coach

Mike McCarthy said he made the move because Clifton ”didn’t look

healthy.” Continued knee soreness is putting Clifton’s

availability against the Bears in doubt.

”He’s our starting left tackle,” McCarthy said. ”He’s

battling through a rough spot right now medically. We have Bryan

Bulaga getting ready. I thought Bryan played well with his

opportunity yesterday.”

Facing a Monday night game, the Packers would have an extra day

to get their rookie ready.

”It helps you, one more day of preparation,” McCarthy said.

”We’ll take advantage of that, and I’m sure Bryan will take a lot

of the practice reps this week. We’ll make sure Bryan’s ready, and

we’ll do what we need to do to get Chad ready.”

Making his first career start against the Bears at Soldier Field

could be a big deal for Bulaga, a native of Crystal Lake, Ill. –

although any excitement might be tempered by the prospect of facing

Julius Peppers.

Bulaga went into the draft after his junior year at Iowa, and

was taken No. 23 overall by the Packers.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Bulaga played well

Sunday, other than a false start penalty in the fourth quarter.

”Bulaga, from day one, he’s fit in personality-wise very well

here and I like his work ethic and I have a lot of confidence when

he’s in the game,” Rodgers said after Sunday’s game. ”Other than

the jump on a hard count, I think he did a nice job for us.”

Although Bulaga is expected to become the Packers’ long-term

left tackle, he was given a chance to compete with veteran Daryn

Colledge for the starting left guard job in training camp. Colledge

won the job in camp after Bulaga missed time with a right hip

flexor injury. On Sunday, they lined up next to each other.

”I know he was nervous, but at the same time he was extremely

excited,” Colledge said Sunday. ”He got out there and I thought

he did a good job from what I could tell. He had one false start

just like me so the left side kind of held down the penalties. I

think he was excited to get out there and show what he’s got.”

Colledge called the transition seamless, although the rest of

the linemen did try to simplify the calls they make at the line of


”When it’s me and Bulaga in there, I just want him to settle

down so I’m going to tell him what we’re doing and we’re just going

to roll,” Colledge said. ”I thought he did a great job. He was

physical in his plays and he blocked well.”

As might be expected of an 11-year NFL veteran, Clifton has a

history of knee issues and was receiving medical treatment


Clifton, who had arthroscopic surgery on both knees and both

shoulders before the 2009 season, had swelling in his right knee

toward the end of training camp this year and sat out practice.

McCarthy said the team will take the week to determine whether

Clifton will start against the Bears, and Bulaga will likely get a

significant number of snaps at left tackle in practice.

”He’s played a lot of football,” McCarthy said of Clifton.

”He’s had a number of surgeries, both knees, shoulders, and it’s

some wear-and-tear. We just feel that we need to treat him

accordingly. They’re trying different things, and hopefully he’ll

be ready for Chicago. There’s really nothing else to talk