Facing any NFL team with a battered offensive line is a challenge, but coming out of last week’s game the Green Bay Packers appeared to be facing a worst-case scenario. Not only had two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken clavicle, but both of the team’s offensive tackles — who were finally back on the field together for the first time in months — left the game with injuries of their own.
Bryan Bulaga suffered a concussion during the game against the Minnesota Vikings, while David Bakthiari saw his injured hamstring flare up and force him out of action. Furthermore, left guard Lane Taylor left the game early on with knee and ankle injuries of his own, forcing backup quarterback Brett Hundley into an untenable situation.
However, as Hundley prepares for his first NFL start on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, all signs point to him having two of those three starters back on the field in front of him — a welcome sight given the recent success of New Orleans’ defense.
According to head coach Mike McCarthy, Bulaga has cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol as of Friday. With his ankle sprain appearing to be cleared up as well, this opens up the pathway for him to start at right tackle and to play fully on Sunday. Adding to the good news is Bakhtiari’s status; the left tackle was only a limited participant in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. However, ESPN’s Jason Wilde indicates that Bakhtiari “sounds like he intends to play” in his comments to the media.
Taylor is the likeliest player to sit out this week. However, Justin McCray has filled in admirably when called upon at guard. The dropoff from Bakhtiari and Bulaga to their potential replacements — especially if Taylor would also be out — is terrifyingly steep. McCray would likely kick out to left tackle with Lucas Patrick taking over a guard. That’s a scary proposition, particularly against an elite right end like Cameron Jordan.
However, signs point to both Bulaga and Bakhtiari suiting up on Sunday. Stay tuned for Friday’s official injury report this afternoon, but if those two are on the field it should make Hundley’s Sunday a much smoother one.