GREEN BAY — The Green Bay Packers have to hope that their summer of good luck on the injury front continues with Bryan Bulaga, and that the veteran right tackle’s ankle injury suffered in practice Wednesday turns out to be minor.
Bulaga limped off the field after injuring his ankle on the first play of a 9-on-7 run-blocking period, and he did not return. Second-year tackles Jason Spriggs, who struggled during last Saturday night’s game at Washington, and Kyle Murphy shared time at right tackle in Bulaga’s place, although Murphy got the first snaps there after Bulaga departed.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy spoke before practice, so he was unavailable to update reporters on Bulaga’s status afterward. His next scheduled press briefing is Thursday morning.
Asked if he was worried about his friend and bookend tackle after practice, left tackle David Bakhtiari replied, “I’m concerned anytime someone goes out of practice, but I’ll have to find out just like everyone else.”
After season-ending injuries in 2012 (hip) and 2013 (knee), Bulaga has been relatively healthy the past three seasons, missing only five of a possible 48 regular-season games. He started all 16 games last season, the first time that’s happened during Bulaga’s seven NFL seasons. Bulaga missed one game in 2014 and four games in 2015 because of knee injuries.
Murphy, a sixth-round pick from Stanford last year, scarcely played as a rookie last season but has had a solid training camp. He’s taken most of his snaps at right tackle, so he would likely get the start Saturday night at Denver if Bulaga doesn’t play.
“You’re always going to have that mentality of next man up and be ready,” Murphy said. “You might not play for three games or you might be up the next play. I’ll be ready to go. Everyone in the offensive line room has that mentality.”
Spriggs, a second-round pick from Indiana last year who started two games at guard as a rookie while Pro Bowler T.J. Lang was sidelined, had a rough outing against Washington, appearing to be at least partly responsible for three sacks. He was expected to be the Packers’ swing tackle this season but must rebound from his showing against the Redskins.
“That’s what preseason’s all about, getting some playing time and taking the rust off,” Spriggs said. “We’ll see what happens. Between me and Murph… first off, we’ll see what Bryan’s doing, what’s going on. If we’ve got to go in there, we’ll go in there.”