Tackle Bryan Bulaga has a kneecap sprain and will be challenged to play this upcoming Sunday against the Chicago Bears on Christmas Day, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said in a Monday press conference.
Bulaga hurt the same leg on Sunday in the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs he did earlier in the season in Week 3 against the Bears, but the Packers perhaps dodged a bullet when Bulaga sustained a different injury than the original one.
Combined with the season-ending injury to backup Derek Sherrod, the Packers are experiencing depth issues along the offensive line.
“It’s next guy up,” said McCarthy. “It’s something every football team goes through. We had extensive experience with that last year, and we’re in a little bit of that mode right now.”
Sherrod suffered a broken leg and underwent successful surgery Sunday evening while still in Kansas City. McCarthy said he hoped the rookie offensive tackle would be able to return to Green Bay later in the week.
After both Bulaga and Sherrod went down, T.J. Lang shifted from left guard to right tackle while Evan Dietrich-Smith took Lang’s place at left guard.
At least for the time being, that will be the same offensive line McCarthy anticipates entering the Week 16 matchup against the Bears.
“I think it’s safe to say that,” said McCarthy. “That’s the way we talked about it this weekend. Like anything, I’m being very premature speaking out on Monday.”
McCarthy wouldn’t rule out Bulaga for the Bears game, but the way the coach spoke on Monday, it would appear unlikely that he’ll be able to play in six days.
One thing that help might help out the Packers and their depth issues is the potential return of left tackle Chad Clifton who hasn’t played since sustaining a hamstring injury in Week 5.
The hamstring should have healed enough by now for Clifton to return, according to McCarthy, but of more concern at this moment, is the back issue Clifton is dealing with as he makes his comeback.
The goal will be for Clifton to participate in individual drills on Wednesday when the Packers return to practice, but how he progresses and responds to activity for the first time in several weeks will determine whether he will be ready to play.
With Sherrod expected to be placed on injured reserve, the Packers will very likely make a roster move in the next day or two.
Among the team’s options would be to elevate tackle Chris Campbell from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. Campbell was on the Packers’ practice squad last season during their Super Bowl run.
He was also in training camp this summer before getting injured and later cut. Campbell was again signed to the practice squad at midseason.