Sitton: Packers' Bulaga 'positive' after injury

September 9, 2014

In this July 28, 2014, file photo, Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers and Bryan Bulaga (75) walk on the field for NFL football training camp in Green Bay, Wis. A little lost in the hand-wringing over the loss of center J.C. Tretter is the return of right tackle Bryan Bulaga to the Packers to help solidify the edges on the offensive line.

GREEN BAY — Josh Sitton doesn't know if his friend and Green Bay Packers offensive line mate Bryan Bulaga will be able to play through a knee injury he suffered in the season opener. But he thinks that Bulaga is going to try.

"He seems to be very positive about the way his knee feels, so he's going to fight to play," Sitton, the Packers Pro Bowl left guard, said Monday. "We'll see what happens."

Bulaga made his first regular-season start in 669 days when he started at right tackle in the Packers' 36-16 loss to the defending Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks.

Bulaga suffered a season-ending hip injury on Nov. 4, 2012 and missed all of last season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a training-camp scrimmage.

So when he injured his left knee again on Thursday night, Bulaga was understandably shaken. The good news: Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Bulaga escaped a "major injury." Is there a chance Bulaga could play Sunday against the New York Jets? Maybe.

His specific injury hasn't been released. Bulaga was not in the Packers' locker room during the media availability period Monday evening. Injured center JC Tretter came into the locker room and retrieved something from Bulaga's locker for him.

Asked if Bulaga intends to play through the injury, Sitton replied, "Yeah, absolutely. We'll see. It's only Monday. So Wednesday we'll be able to tell more and then as the week goes on we'll be able to tell more."

The next man up if Bulaga cannot go is Derek Sherrod, the team's 2011 first-round draft pick. Sherrod, who missed all of the 2012 season and nearly all of the 2013 season after suffering a career-threatening leg injury late in his rookie season, struggled against the Seahawks, allowing two sacks and two quarterback pressures in just 42 snaps.

The coaches thought Sherrod didn't play poorly overall, but his mistakes were significant: He gave up one sack to Cliff Avril on a critical fourth-and-5 play from Seattle's 41-yard line midway through the third quarter, and then another to Michael Bennett that resulted in a sack/fumble that Sherrod recovered in the end zone for a safety. Sherrod was also pushed into quarterback Aaron Rodgers on a failed two-point conversion later in the game.

"Bottom line, if you play offensive tackle in the NFL, you're going to have to win your 1-on-1 match-up," offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. "Derek will see the film and we anticipate he'll do well."

Sitton said he thought Sherrod "played well, with the exception of a couple plays" against the Seahawks.

"Really, for him, it's mental," Sitton said. "He's missed a lot of football the last couple years. I don't know exactly what he's got to do to get that confidence back, but I think it starts on the practice field and if he can get that confidence he'll be fine."

For his part, Sherrod said he would focus on what he did right against the Seahawks instead of what he did wrong.

"(I've) just got to go out there and execute our plays a little bit better and come through," Sherrod said. "Everybody's going to have good plays, everybody's going to have bad plays, but if you focus on the negative, it's obviously going to affect you in the long run and you won't be as productive as you have to be."












 

Associated Press