Packers have to regroup from jolting loss to Seattle
The Sports Xchange
NFL Team Report - Green Bay Packers - INSIDE SLANT
Problem is, the fallout from Green Bay's third straight season-opening loss - the first time that has happened for the Packers in a quarter century since they lost five openers in a row from 1985-89 - could linger a little longer than usual.
Playing the NFL's first game of the new season Thursday night means the Packers will be left to stew on their 36-16 loss at defending Super Bowl champion Seattle for a week and a half. Green Bay's next game isn't until Sept. 14, its home opener against the New York Jets at Lambeau Field.
For all the misgivings to come out of the beat-down leveled by the dominant Seahawks is the extra time off could provide some relief for a team that is licking a few wounds to key players.
The Packers lost two starters on offense - halfback Eddie Lacy and right tackle Bryan Bulaga - to injuries in the game at CenturyLink Field. Bulaga went out early in the second quarter with a knee injury, and Lacy was done for the night early in the fourth quarter because of a concussion.
Late Friday afternoon, head coach Mike McCarthy provided a mostly optimistic outlook for both players amid national reports that Bulaga sustained a sprained MCL in his surgically repaired left knee.
"Right now, we've got a little bit of a gap between how Bryan feels and how the medical department feels about it, which is normal," said McCarthy, who then suggested Bulaga has a shot to get back on the field next week.
The Packers have the weekend off, reconvene for meetings and workouts Monday, then return to the practice field Wednesday.
"I think, really, Wednesday's practice will probably give us a better indication," McCarthy said of Bulaga's status. "I know Bryan would like to try to go on Wednesday, but we've got to continue to see how his knee reacts between now and then. It's not a major injury, we're relieved by that, (but) I really don't have a timeline for you."
Bulaga missed the entire 2013 season because of a torn ACL in the left knee. He has worn a protective brace on the knee since the offseason this year and continued to do so in the game Thursday.
His latest injury occurred on a run play for Lacy, who started toward Bulaga's side of the line but cut it back to the left after encountering a swarm of bodies. As Lacy went the other way, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who was engaged by Bulaga's block, pushed the tackle back into Richard Rodgers. The Packers' rookie tight end collided with Bulaga from behind, causing Bulaga to fall to the ground as the left knee slightly twisted.
Rodgers suffered a stinger on the play but, unlike Bulaga, later returned to the game.
Teammates had concern for Bulaga after the game, although McCarthy said at the time the team didn't "fear a major injury."
"That sucks," right guard T.J. Lang said of seeing Bulaga go out with another knee injury. "I didn't really see the play, but obviously he's a guy who's had some bad luck the last couple of years. He's one of the hardest-working guys we've got, and seeing him go down is never easy. Talking with him, I think he sounded pretty confident that he won't be out long. He's a guy that we need. He's a good player for us."
The absence of Bulaga had mitigating consequences for the Packers in the second half of Thursday's game, when the Seahawks went off after leading just 17-10 at halftime.
Former first-round draft pick Derek Sherrod replaced Bulaga and gave up two big sacks of quarterback Aaron Rodgers on what turned out to be back-to-back plays for Green Bay's offense in separate series. The first sack came on a fourth-and-5 play in Seattle territory, and the second sack resulted in a fumble by Rodgers and a safety for the Seahawks as Sherrod fell on the loose football in the end zone.
While rumors swirled Friday the Packers could be looking to bring in veteran free agent Eric Winston to plug what looms as a big hole should Bulaga have to miss any length of time with the injury, McCarthy is sticking with Sherrod. For now.