GREEN BAY, Wis. -- With a smile on his face and a wishful thought in his mind, Green Bay Packers left guard Josh Sitton suggested that offensive linemate Bryan Bulaga should just “brace it up and play” with the torn anterior cruciate knee ligament he sustained in Saturday’s scrimmage.
Against most odds, Bulaga actually is considering some form of that, according to coach Mike McCarthy.
“We’re still waiting on a medical opinion that hasn’t come in yet,” McCarthy said Tuesday. “Bryan is still hopeful to potentially give it a go.”
Whether that’s even physically possible -- to play the most important position on the offensive line without a major ligament that provides stability to the knee -- remains a serious question. But when it came time for Sitton to get serious about one of his best friends on the team, he had a much different opinion.
“If he does try to go? I would think he’s stupid,” Sitton said. “He’s got a career to worry about. It’s just not just about this year when you have something like that, so it would be dumb.”
Perhaps the Packers and Bulaga are hopeful about a return without the reconstructive surgery that is almost always necessary for an ACL tear, because Bulaga played several more plays after his injury, which occurred on the opening series of the scrimmage.
“Everybody’s talking through, as we always do, what’s in the best interests of the player,” McCarthy said. “Bryan fully understands what it would take for him to play this year. He’s looking at all his options.”
For now, the Packers plan to go with rookie David Bakhtiari at left tackle. He worked there exclusively during Tuesday’s practice. The fourth-round pick from Colorado was pushing Marshall Newhouse -- and might even have passed him -- for the right tackle job. Now, Newhouse looks like a safe bet to be the starting right tackle.
Bakhtiari was a late-bloomer, didn’t become a starter in high school until his senior year and then redshirted his first season at Colorado. He played right tackle in his redshirt freshman year and moved to left tackle after teammate Nate Solder was selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft by the New England Patriots. Bakhtiari played two seasons at left tackle, then declared for the NFL draft, leaving after his redshirt junior year.
“(This is) why I left early; that’s why I came here,” Bakhtiari said. “That’s why I came into the draft. I’m not looking back. I’m only looking forward.”
Bulaga, who also missed the second half of last season because of a hip injury, was the cornerstone of the offensive line and one of the reasons McCarthy flip-flopped the linemen this offseason, when he moved Bulaga and Sitton to the left side and Newhouse and guard T.J. Lang to the right.
Regardless of whether Bulaga returns, it appears Sitton and Lang will remain in their new spots.