On Friday morning, the Green Bay Packers gave their fans the news that they had feared since reports from Thursday's practice.
Head coach Mike McCarthy spoke to the media and confirmed the status of right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who left practice yesterday with an apparent left knee injury. That injury was later reported to be a sprained MCL, and as a result, Bulaga will not play against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night:
That's a tough blow for an offensive line that had recently returned to full strength. Bulaga was notably the only starter to miss any games last season, as he was out for only the week two game against the Jets - that absence was also due to an MCL issue. He returned the following week and started the remaining 14 games of the regular season, plus both playoff games.
Bulaga's injury thrusts the spotlight on the Packers' reserve tackles, notably Don Barclay and Josh Walker (and to a lesser extent, JC Tretter). Though Barclay is the logical choice to replace Bulaga given his experience, his recovery from an ACL tear last August has led him to be less than impressive in training camp. McCarthy notably would not commit to a single player, saying that he is "not declaring any starters right now."
Barclay played both tackle positions this summer, filling in for David Bakhtiari on the left side as well as helping to back up Bulaga. On the other hand, Walker focused mainly on guard and right tackle. Tretter also pitched in at right tackle late last season in Buffalo, when Bulaga missed a few series with an injury.
Regardless of who starts, the Packers will have a backup tackle facing defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, along with the rest of the Seahawks' defensive front. That's not an ideal situation, and it will undoubtedly put Aaron Rodgers' quick release and nimble footwork to the test on Sunday night.
News is better on the defensive side of the ball, as McCarthy indicated that it is "so far so good" for safety Morgan Burnett, and that he should play on Sunday if all goes well in Saturday's practice.