Over the summer, it seemed a sure bet that Green Bay Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga would spend training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list and end up on the PUP to start the regular season. He tore his ACL last November in just his fifth game of the season, and it seemed reasonable to expect another few months of rehab before he would be ready to resume full football activities.
However, Bulaga has blown those expectations out of the water. On Friday, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said in his pre-practice press conference that Bulaga had passed his physical, which means that he is no longer on the PUP list. Furthermore, McCarthy said that Bulaga will practice on Friday on a limited basis. This leaves outside linebacker Nick Perry as the only Packer remaining on PUP.
This is great news for an offensive line that is already working on finding a new starter at the right guard position to replace free agent Jahri Evans. Had Bulaga started the regular season on the PUP list, he would have missed a minimum of six games, making him eligible to return for the Packers’ week 8 game against the Rams. Instead, it appears that he will be ready to go in week one barring any setbacks, giving the team a big upgrade over potential replacements Jason Spriggs or Kyle Murphy.
The ACL tear suffered last year was Bulaga’s second, as he also tore that ligament in his other knee during the team’s Family Night Scrimmage in 2013. That offseason, Bulaga had switched from right to left tackle but the injury forced David Bakhtiari into the starting lineup — where he has remained ever since. Furthermore, that injury helped convince the Packers to convert Family Night from a true scrimmage into a glorified practice to reduce the chances of player injuries.
For now, however, the Packers’ line appears to be taking shape for week one, and it will be markedly better if Bulaga is indeed able to start on the right side.