As much as Green Bay Packers fans want or think they'll see first-round draft choice Bryan Bulaga as the starting left tackle against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, it's far from a given.
According to a poll taken by viewers of the Tuesday night Packer Transplants broadcast here on Cheesehead TV, results say that a majority people think that Bulaga will start at left tackle on Monday (78%) compared to Chad Clifton (22%).
Head coach Mike McCarthy reiterated on Monday that Clifton is the starter as long as he's healthy.
"It’s never been up in the air," said McCarthy. "Chad Clifton is the starting tackle. If he is medically unable to go, then we’ll see what happens, but we won’t announce that until game time I am sure."
It's clear that the Packers are giving Clifton every chance to prove he's healthy and will be ready for the showdown between the two undefeated teams battling for early NFC North supremacy.
If it was a given that Clifton would sit out of Monday's game in order to rest at least one more week, Bulaga would have been practicing exclusively at left tackle on Thursday. And according to Bulaga, that didn't happen.
"I [worked at guard] and worked a little right tackle today," said Bulaga after practice. "It's what I've been doing the past couple weeks. I don't think it's been anything too out there. I've been doing it all of [training] camp pretty much."
Clifton practiced on a limited basis on Thursday, which has pretty much been status quo for the veteran offensive lineman for the past several seasons. Typically Clifton has seen his participation increase as it becomes closer to game day.
Even though Clifton was pulled by the coaching staff this past Sunday against the Buffalo Bills because his knee issues were supposedly limiting his effectiveness, McCarthy thinks the two consecutive days off have helped Clifton.
"Chad is making progress," said McCarthy. "He went through practice today in a limited fashion, and we’ll see how he is tomorrow. I’m hopeful that he’ll practice either tomorrow or for sure Saturday is the plan going into the week. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow. Preferably tomorrow over Saturday."
Bulaga downplayed the prospect of being excited at the possibility of his first NFL start and instead said he was focused on the task at hand.
"I don't really know anything about that," said Bulaga. "If that happens, then that would be exciting, but right now that's looking a little bit too far ahead right now. Coach McCarthy would probably know more about that than anyone. I'm just taking it day by day here with practice and working to know the gameplan better."
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