Packers ‘hoping for a miracle’ with Bryan Bulaga injury

GREEN BAY, Wis. — There’s nothing wrong with hoping for a miracle.

That’s the official stance — and exact quote — of Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson in regard to the team’s starting left tackle, Bryan Bulaga.

The Packers found out Monday that Bulaga suffered a torn ACL in Saturday night’s intrasquad scrimmage, an injury that almost always ends a player’s season as soon as the diagnosis is known.

However, as of Tuesday afternoon, Bulaga has not yet decided whether to have surgery. The 24-year-old offensive lineman is seeking a second medical opinion that will likely be the determining factor.

“Bryan is still hopeful to potentially give it a go,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “We clearly understand all the options with the initial medical opinion. Nothing’s been finalized. If you had a chance to see Bryan … he doesn’t even look like he’s injured. It was one of those plays that you really don’t understand and didn’t look like a very significant injury, but we’re still working through the process.

“No decision on Bryan has been made.”

Bulaga was injured on the seventh play of Saturday’s scrimmage, but he continued to participate throughout the remainder of the night without any noticeable issues.

“Everybody’s talking through, as we always do, what’s in the best interest of the player,” McCarthy said. “Bryan fully understands what it would take for him to play this year. He’s looking at all his options.”

Bulaga was not available for comment in the locker room Tuesday, though he was at Lambeau Field with the team.

The case of New England Patriots offensive lineman Logan Mankins could be what’s giving Bulaga some hope. Mankins played the entire 2011 season with a torn ACL, though he later claimed that he didn’t know the severity of the injury at the time.

Thompson expects to know “pretty soon” what the result is with Bulaga.

“Nobody’s trying to keep this secret,” Thompson said. “There’s a process that we’re trying to go through until we get all the answers and I’s dotted and that sort of thing. We’re just going to hope. Hope is a good thing, you know?”

Thompson noticed that Bulaga “came out kind of kicking his leg a little bit” after the play that caused the injury, but there didn’t seem to be any lingering effects after that.

“Then (he) goes back to the huddle and plays great the rest of the night, which is the reason I still have hope,” Thompson said.

McCarthy flipped the entire offensive line in May, an unprecedented move in the NFL. The Packers took Bulaga — who had been the team’s right tackle — and right guard Josh Sitton, and switched them with tackle Marshall Newhouse and guard T.J. Lang.

Now, Green Bay is turning to rookie fourth-rookie pick David Bakhtiari as the left tackle in charge of protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ blind side.

“We’ve gone to Plan B before,” Thompson said. “Most of the offensive linemen we draft are left tackles in college, but most of them don’t end up playing left tackle once they get to the NFL. (Bakhtiari) has athleticism, good extension, good length, plays with his knees bent, works hard at his craft. He understands it’s a lot more cerebral game on the offensive line than you might think.”

McCarthy didn’t give much detail as to why he decided not to put Newhouse back at left tackle. Newhouse was the Packers’ starting left tackle for the previous 33 games over the past two seasons.

“How we end up, time will answer that,” McCarthy said. “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.”

A year after allowing Rodgers to be sacked more than any quarterback in the NFL and having a rushing offense that finished 20th in league rankings, Green Bay’s revamped offensive line has taken another hit. Bulaga, who was clearly the Packers’ best offensive tackle, was a key component when McCarthy chose to move him to the left side of the line.

The odds of Bulaga playing through a torn ACL this season are obviously slim. But, for now, Green Bay’s front office is attempting to remain optimistic.

“There’s nothing wrong with hoping for a miracle,” Thompson repeated.

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