GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Bryan Bulaga, the Green Bay Packers’ veteran right tackle, is cautiously optimistic that he will be ready to go for Week 1 after injuring right ankle at practice.
”I’m not too concerned about it,” Bulaga said Thursday while on the way to treatment. ”I’m able to walk and it feels better as the day goes on. Based on how it feels today and throughout the day, it’s a positive, I think.”
Bulaga was injured during Wednesday’s practice. After lying on the ground for about a half-minute, Bulaga got up and limped off the practice field in obvious pain. While X-rays were negative, Bulaga was waiting for results from other tests. He will miss Saturday night’s preseason game at Denver but is hopeful that he will be in the lineup for the season-opening game against Seattle in 17 days.
”It doesn’t feel great today, probably won’t feel great tomorrow, probably won’t feel great the next day, but I’m pretty sure I should be able to bounce back from it and get my body ready to go for the opener,” Bulaga said.
In the interim, either Kyle Murphy and Jason Spriggs will start against the Broncos. Spriggs, a second-round pick last year who started twice at right guard as a rookie, has played mostly left tackle in camp. Murphy, a sixth-round pick last year who played eight snaps on offense as a rookie, has played mostly right tackle.
With Bulaga, Green Bay has a quality starting offensive line. Veteran Jahri Evans has capably replaced Pro Bowl right guard T.J. Lang, who signed with Detroit, and center Corey Linsley is having an excellent camp following offseason ankle surgery. Bulaga’s injury will stress the line’s depth, which has come along slowly as the team tries to replace versatile veterans J.C. Tretter, who signed with Cleveland in free agency, and Don Barclay, who sustained an ankle injury during the first preseason game.
In two preseason games, Green Bay has allowed 10 sacks – all coming with the backup linemen in the game. The running game has been dismal, with the running backs averaging a paltry 2.2 yards per carry.
With Bulaga’s history of knee problems, the coaches had limited the 28-year-old’s reps throughout training camp, with Murphy usually being the player to step into the No. 1 line. After Bulaga went down on Wednesday, Murphy and Spriggs split the first-team reps.
”You always have to be ready to play,” Murphy said after Wednesday’s practice. ”They say the NFL is next-man-up mentality, whether you’re going into the game thinking you’re the starter or whatever or you’re coming in as a backup and you have to be ready for the next play.”
The Packers need more from Spriggs, who struggled on Saturday night at Washington.
”He just got out of his fundamental wheelhouse,” offensive line coach James Campen said this week. ”That can happen at times. Certainly, he’ll be the first to tell you he’s got to play better. We’ll get those things corrected and I’ll make sure he’s better prepared next time.”
Not having Bulaga available could impact how much the Packers’ No. 1 offense plays against the Broncos, especially with the team not practicing on Thursday and having only a walk-through on Friday.
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