Packers: Right tackle Bryan Bulaga out for the season with a knee injury
GREEN BAY — For the third time in six years, Bryan Bulaga has sustained a season-ending injury – as the Green Bay Packers’ injury-riddled season rolls on.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy confirmed Tuesday evening what the team feared as soon as the veteran right tackle went down during Monday night’s 30-17 loss to the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field: That Bulaga’s knee injury during the fourth quarter was severe.
The NFL Network reported that Bulaga tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
“Bad news on Bryan Bulaga. It’s very unfortunate,” McCarthy said. “He’s had a stretch of bad luck this year. It started with the ankle injury there in training camp. I feel bad for him. I thought he had clearly come off his best season last year. Tough news.”
Bulaga, who sustained a hip injury midway through the 2012 season and a torn ACL in his left knee in training camp in 2013, spent this season dealing with less serious injuries. He sustained an Aug. 23 ankle injury that forced him to miss the first two regular-season games, then re-injured the ankle in Week 3 against Cincinnati. He then left the Packers’ Oct. 15 loss at Minnesota with a concussion – the same game in which quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered his broken collarbone.
Meanwhile, McCarthy also said veteran safety Morgan Burnett, who returned Monday night after a two-game absence because of a hamstring injury, will not play Sunday at Chicago because of the groin injury he sustained against the Lions.
“I don’t have a timeline for you, but he will not be available this week against Chicago,” McCarthy said of Burnett.
The injuries to two of the team’s key veterans – Bulaga and Burnett are both members of the Packers’ 2010 draft class and were rookies on the Super Bowl XLV-winning team that year – continued a season-long unlucky streak for the Packers, who could be without their star quarterback for the rest of the year, have started seven offensive line combinations and have shuttled players in and out of the lineup on defense.
McCarthy said general manager Ted Thompson had a one-word reaction to the team’s continuing injury issues.
“It’s, in Ted words, ‘remarkable,’ ” McCarthy said. “We can’t get out of the spiral that we’re in.”
The Packers could have a hard time replacing Bulaga if jack-of-all-trades backup Justin McCray can’t go Sunday. McCray sustained an ankle injury on the final play of Monday’s game – a 1-yard Jamaal Williams touchdown run on an untimed down with the Packers trailing by 20 points.
McCarthy said McCray was “in for treatment” Tuesday morning and would be evaluated again today.
“We’ll see how we line up,” McCarthy replied when asked whether McCray would get the start against the Bears. “Obviously, that’s how we played (after Bulaga’s injury).”
The Packers can’t replace Bulaga with second-year tackle Jason Spriggs, who was designated for return off injured reserve last week but has to practice for another week before being allowed back onto the 53-man roster.
McCarthy said that while the game was out of reach, the Packers’ final drive — on which Brett Hundley completed 4 of 5 passes for 63 yards and the Packers moved 75 yards in six plays — was important and thus worth the risk of the injury McCray sustained.
“(It’s) ‘accepted risk,’ ” McCarthy said. “I’m not trying to be cold about this. There’s a reason why I called the timeouts. We needed that drive.
“Frankly, we needed the work with Brett and so forth. We needed that drive. It was an opportunity to get better, to improve. You don’t want to see any of your players get hurt but we’re out there to play 60 minutes. To me, yeah, you finish the game.”