GREEN BAY, Wis. – Aaron Rodgers could count on one thing last season: David Bakhtiari would be at left tackle to protect his blindside, and Bryan Bulaga would man the other side at right tackle for the Green Bay Packers.
OK, that’s two things.
But the tackle combination started all 19 games, including playoffs. Bakhtiari missed just 34 snaps all season and Bulaga just 35.
That hasn’t been the case so far this year.
While fill-ins Kyle Murphy (now on injured reserve), Justin McCray and even starting left guard Lane Taylor, who handled the position switch as well as possible in last Thursday’s win over the Bears, have kept Rodgers healthy, the Packers’ offense has suffered while their regular starting tackles have battled injuries.
Bakhtiari and Bulaga have yet to play a snap together this season, and Rodgers has been sacked 15 times, third most in the NFL.
That could change Sunday at Dallas. Both Bakhtiari and Bulaga were in pads for Thursday’s practice, a sign they could both play against the Cowboys.
David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga both were in pads on Thursday. Sunday could be the first time the Packers starting tackles play together this season.
Bulaga has played just 47 snaps this season – all in Week 3 against the Bengals – because of the sprained ankle he sustained in training camp, and he couldn’t get through that game without a setback. Bakhtiari hasn’t played since the season opener, when he did the splits while engaged in a block late in the game and sustained a hamstring injury.
Even if Bulaga plays, he’s not likely to be at 100 percent, and that may not change all season. He admitted this week that his ankle sprain is likely to linger most of the year.
“I think that’s kind of where we’re at with it,” Bulaga said. “What the injury was, it’s probably one of those things that’s going to linger for a while. That’s just the way it’s going to be. I’m just going to have to get it to a point where it’s manageable enough and then just try to take care of it the rest of the way and keep it manageable. That’s the reality of it. We don’t really have the time to get it to 100 percent. I think that’s unrealistic.”
When Bulaga first sprained his right ankle on Aug. 23, he thought there was a chance he could be back for the regular-season opener. Even when he returned for Week 3, he couldn’t finish that game.
“Unfortunately I had the little minor setback – I hate to call it that, but that’s what it is – and this week it’s gotten better and just keep progressing with it,” Bulaga said.