The Green Bay Packers are reportedly receiving a season-ending blow to one of their most important players for the 2013 season.
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Packers left tackle Bryan Bulaga suffered a torn ACL during the team’s Family Night scrimmage Saturday night and will miss the upcoming season.
Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel first reported Sunday night that the Packers were “hoping for the best but fearing the worst” on a previously undisclosed injury to Bulaga’s knee.
Green Bay’s worst fears have now been realized.
A first-round pick of the Packers in 2010, Bulaga was penciled in as the team’s starting left tackle after making the transition from the right side this offseason. His move to left tackle was the centerpiece to Mike McCarthy’s plan to improve the offensive line, which allowed 51 sacks of quarterback Aaron Rodgers in 2012.
The Packers will now have to go to Plan B upfront.
More than likely, McCarthy will plug the experienced but inconsistent Marshall Newhouse back in at left tackle. The veteran has started 29 games at the position over the last two seasons, but there’s a reason why the Packers decided to re-shuffle their offensive line this season. According to Pro Football Focus, Newhouse has allowed 18 sacks since 2011 while also receiving negative run blocking grades in each season.
This summer, Newhouse has been battling both Don Barclay and David Bahktiari at right tackle. If Newhouse is moved back to the left side, Barclay and Bahktiari would become the two prime candidates to start at right tackle.
Another possible scenario would involve playing Bahktiari, a fourth-round rookie from Colorado, as the starting left tackle, while having Newhouse and Barclay continue their battle on the right side. Bahktiari has surprised in camp and even took reps with the No. 1 offense in Saturday’s scrimmage.
The Packers probably can’t depend on either Derek Sherrod (active/PUP list) or Andrew Datko (2012 seventh-round pick) to be serious contenders to win a starting job.
Bulaga missed nine games last season (including playoffs) after dislocating his hip. If he’s sidelined for all 16 games in 2013, Bulaga will have missed 27 regular-season games over four seasons since the Packers drafted him in 2010.
Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.