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Newhouse, Bakhtiari will handle left, right tackle duties for now; Green Bay works out QB Young.
By CHRIS HAVEL
Bryan Bulaga and Josh Sitton spoke in such positives about the move from the right to left side of the offensive line during a TV interview for Saturday’s Family Night Scrimmage. Both were excited about the change and the progress they had made.
“It was a Monday morning when coach (Mike McCarthy) called us in to tell us,” Bulaga told Green Bay’s Fox 11. “We had an idea it was possible, and then he told us they made the switch.”
Since that day early in the offseason, Bulaga and Sitton had worked hard to become a dynamic tandem in the Packers’ pass and run games. Sunday that plan was put on hold with news of Bulaga’s knee injury. According to reports, the Packers believe he may have torn his ACL in the scrimmage. Bulaga played about 30 snaps.
Apparently the knee swelled up Sunday morning and the Packers went ahead with tests to determine the extent of the damage. As of noon Monday, no official word was given about Bulaga’s status by the team.
If it is a season-ending injury, it would qualify as a huge setback to an offensive line that is trying to protect quarterback Aaron Rodgers and build a reliable running attack. That challenge just became much greater.
When McCarthy decided to flip-flop the line it was clear that Bulaga was the key. The expectation was that he and Sitton would anchor the left side in pass protection, and also on cut-back runs by the backs. Just when it seemed they were getting a semblance of timing the injury hit. For Bulaga, who has missed 11 games the past two seasons, it is an unfortunate injury. According to McCarthy, Bulaga was in the Packers’ facility constantly throughout the offseason while rehabbing his hip.
Bulaga, 24, was having a very strong training camp. He looked comfortable at left tackle, and was outstanding during the one-on-one pass blocking drills. Now, it appears Marshall Newhouse will move back to left tackle, where he has started 29 games the past two seasons. Another option is rookie tackle David Bakhtiari, a fourth-round pick from Colorado. Bakhtiari has been impressive during camp, and could see time at right or left tackle, depending on how McCarthy and his staff wish to proceed.
Don Barclay, who started at right tackle late last season, has been working almost exclusively at center and right guard. Derek Sherrod remains unavailable due to a leg injury, and Kevin Hughes and Andrew Datko have been underwhelming. The best guess here is that Newhouse will be at left tackle, Bakhtiari will be at right tackle, and GM Ted Thompson will be on the phone searching for veteran tackle help.
The injury comes at a time when the Packers’ offensive line was beginning to mesh. Perhaps the Packers will get lucky, and Bulaga’s injury won’t be season-ending. If not, others are going to have to step up and play better, otherwise new players will be brought in to compete. Bulaga’s injury is a reminder just how unfair the NFL can be at times. Nobody worked harder this offseason to return from an injury, and Bulaga gets bitten by a seemingly harmless play in a scrimmage.
PLUS—in other training camp news …
The Packers brought in quarterback Vince Young for a workout Monday. Young, who hasn’t played since 2011, was in Buffalo’s camp last year before being cut.
Young, 30, was Mike Vick’s backup in Philadelphia in 2011. In six seasons Young has completed 755 of 1,304 passes (57.9%) for 8,964 yards, 46 touchdowns and 51 interceptions.
Packers’ backup quarterback Graham Harrell has been solid in camp, while B.J. Coleman has had good and bad moments. On Saturday night he completed 9 of 18 passes for 100 yards and two interceptions. The turnovers were especially alarming because of poor judgment.
The Packers canceled Monday’s practice.