ESPN Wisconsin Blogs - Jason Wilde
GREEN BAY – Has the Green Bay Packers medical staff been overly conservative with injuries in recent years? Coach Mike McCarthy thinks they may have been.
Speaking in response to a question about whether it might be wise to let right tackle Bryan Bulaga sit out Sunday’s game against the New York Jets with a knee injury – even though Bulaga is pressing hard to play with a tear in the medial collateral ligament in his left knee – and let his knee heel, McCarthy suggested that his team might’ve done that too often in recent years.
“I think sometimes we may have done that in the past,” McCarthy said Friday. “I think our medical department tilts that way, but the reality is you’re only given 16 games and I know from a player’s perspective, they want to play in every single game.
“If Bryan Bulaga feels that he can go in this game, that’ll be a part of the decision. But we’re not saving anybody for next week or so forth. If Bryan cannot go, it will be clearly from a medical standpoint that we don’t feel it’s in his best interest.”
McCarthy’s statement about the team’s handling of injuries was ambiguous. When asked a follow-up question about what he’d said, McCarthy didn’t clear much up.
“I just think medically people are a lot more conservative today. I think the landscape is a challenge for every medical group,” McCarthy said. “I think it’s only natural. But at the end of the day, that’s why you have the process. That’s why it’s set up the way it is on who makes those decisions.
“At the end of the day, and I know I’ve said this numerous times in here, from (general manager) Ted Thompson and myself as far as you look at our players, we’re never going to jeopardize a player’s future for one game. But the importance of playing in every game is important.”
GREEN BAY – Bryan Bulaga will have to show coach Mike McCarthy that he’s ready for action during Saturday morning’s practice.
Although the Green Bay Packers veteran right tackle is expected to take part in the team’s final practice in advance of Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, McCarthy wants to see how he gets through that practice after being “sore” on Friday.
Here’s a look at the full, official injury report from Friday:
The Packers no longer practice on Fridays, instead using the day for meetings and walk-throughs before practicing on Saturdays in advance of Sunday games. McCarthy said the soreness Bulaga was feeling Friday was not surprising considering he suffered damage to the medial collateral ligament in his left knee – the same one he had surgically repaired after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament last summer – only eight days ago.
“Working both days, I think this is what’s to be expected,” McCarthy said. “I think he needs to go out and be able to do the move-the-ball segment and show that he can go through and sustain a drive. [That] would be usually what you’re looking for when you have someone coming off that type of injury.”
If Bulaga can’t play. Derek Sherrod would start in his place after allowing two sacks against the Seahawks in the opener. Despite being the team’s 2011 first-round pick, Sunday would be Sherrod’s first NFL start.
“It’d be a big moment for me. Obviously, everybody in the NFL wants to start. To get that first one would be a pretty big event,” Sherrod said Friday. “I played all right [against Seattle], but I always want to play my best and have a mistake-free game. But I did make mistakes, and I have to better myself in the games and the practices in order to make the best lineman out of myself.”
GREEN BAY – His Desmond Bishop moment has arrived.
Jamari Lattimore talked all the time with Bishop as a rookie in 2011, about the way Bishop impatiently waited for an opportunity to crack the Green Bay Packers’ starting lineup on defense. And, when he did – after former first-round pick Nick Barnett broke his wrist early in the 2010 season – he took the job and never looked back.
Now, it’s Lattimore’s turn.
Lattimore will start in place of veteran inside linebacker Brad Jones on Sunday against the New York Jets at Lambeau Field. Jones has been ruled out for the game with a quadriceps injury after playing poorly in the team’s season-opening loss at Seattle.
And Packers coach Mike McCarthy, for one, is challenging Lattimore to never give the job up.
“I would think anytime you get a chance to go and perform, if you perform at a high level, you don't want to give that spot back,” McCarthy said after ruling Jones out Friday. “I think that's the part of injury. You look at the history of the National Football League, some of the greatest careers were started because of an injury in front of that particular player. This is a big opportunity.”
And one that Lattimore is more prepared for than he was last season, when he started four games due to Jones’ various injuries. He played a career-high 272 defensive snaps on defense last season, starting four games for an injured Brad Jones and recording 38 tackles (31 solo), two sacks and a forced fumble.
But he did that while battling a mysterious virus that was making him sick and weak, one that was never officially diagnosed.
“I had no choice,” Lattimore said of the illness. “It's my job. I've got to go and play. But I didn't feel good. But you just have to suck it up.”
Lattimore likened the illness to what former Packers inside linebacker Terrell Manning dealt with during training camp in 2012, when Manning was diagnosed with a parasite that caused colitis, an inflammation of the large intestine.
Lattimore never received a clear diagnosis – “If a person tells you they don’t know what’s wrong with you, how would you take it?” he said Friday – but is at full health now. Having re-signed on a one-year, restricted free-agent tender of $1.431 million this offseason, this is a big opportunity.
“I just come play ball,” Lattimore said. “For me, I just look at every opportunity the same. My number’s being called, so I’ve got to step up and show what I’m about and do the best job I can. Simple as that.”
GREEN BAY – T.J. Lang isn’t a doctor, and the Green Bay Packers veteran right guard won’t be the one making the decision on whether his offensive line next-door neighbor, right tackle Bryan Bulaga, will play Sunday against the New York Jets.
“I think we’re all expecting that Bryan is going to be the guy out there at right tackle,” Lang told reporters after Thursday’s padded practice, in which Bulaga participated on a limited basis. “He said he’s feeling pretty good.”
Bulaga, who suffered a left knee injury during the team’s Sept. 4 season-opening loss to the Seattle Seahawks, missed all of last season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in that same knee. He reportedly suffered damage to the medical collateral ligament this time.
Here’s a look at the full, official injury report from Thursday:
If Bulaga can’t play, or can’t finish the game, Derek Sherrod would fill his spot. But Lang spoke as if Bulaga at least will open the game.
“If something happens where Derek has to come in, I think taking all the [practice] reps this week has been very beneficial for the both of us,” Lang said. “We always talk about chemistry on the offensive line and that’s knowing how your buddy next to you is going to fit on double teams or whatever it is. Everybody has a certain way of communicating with each other. If Derek is out there, I feel 100 percent comfortable and confident.”
Asked about Bulaga, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said that he wasn’t looking for Bulaga to take all the first-team snaps in 11-on-11 “because he’s not ready for that. How he feels [Friday] and if he can go on Saturday (in practice) will be the final test.”
Meanwhile, Bostick was in pads and took part in most of practice. After moving somewhat gingerly on Wednesday, he said he felt ready to go.
“I felt better. Felt a lot better, felt comfortable out there,” said Bostick, who was injured in the Packers’ Aug. 16 preseason game at St. Louis. “But I still think I have a little way to go to get actually up to where I was before I got hurt.
“I guess I’ll see how my leg feels tomorrow. I’m sure it’ll be pretty sore, but I think it’ll be good.”
GREEN BAY – Considering how unlikely it was that Bryan Bulaga would even be on the practice field Wednesday, it probably wouldn’t be wise to bet against the Green Bay Packers right tackle playing against the New York Jets on Sunday.
Nevertheless, six days after damaging the medial collateral ligament in his left knee – the same knee he had surgically repaired a year ago after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in it – Bulaga was back practicing inside the Don Hutson Center Wednesday.
Bulaga did appear to be clearly favoring the knee, which was protected by a large, bulky brace, throughout the time that reporters were permitted to watch practice.
Ever since coach Mike McCarthy said Bulaga had avoided a “major injury” when his knee bent awkwardly during the team’s 36-16 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Bulaga has been privately telling his teammates and coaches that he wanted to give it a go.
“I thought Bryan's workload was really going through individual [periods],” McCarthy said after practice. “He's been chomping at the bit the last couple of days to get out there. So really we'll just see how Bryan feels tomorrow and see how we can progress with him through the padded work."
Although Bulaga hasn’t spoken with reporters since the injury – he went in and out of the Packers locker room quickly during media availability Wednesday – he told teammate and friend Josh Sitton earlier in the week that he indeed wanted to play.
If he’s able to take part in Thursday’s padded practice and do more than individual work, he might have a chance If Bulaga can’t go, McCarthy said last Friday that Derek Sherrod would get the nod at right tackle.
GREEN BAY – Tight end Brandon Bostick is feeling better, and so is running back Eddie Lacy. But neither of the Green Bay Packers offensive skill-position players will know just how ready they are for a return to game action until after they take part in Thursday’s practice in pads.
In Lacy’s case, if he clears the final hurdle of the concussion protocol, he could practice Thursday. Lacy suffered a concussion at Seattle last Thursday. He did not participate in practice Wednesday but whas there as a spectator.
Bostick, who hasn’t played since suffering a lower leg injury against St. Louis in an Aug. 16 preseason game, took part in Wednesday’s practice on a limited basis but said he wouldn’t know if he could play Sunday against the New York Jets until he takes part in another practice.
Here’s a look at the full, official injury report from Wednesday:
“I would say Eddie Lacy is near the end [of the concussion process], just based on talking with Eddie and what the medical staff feels,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after practice. “He's had good workouts. He's progressed very quickly.”
Bostick took part in individual drills, group drills and special teams work but said he only took “a few” snaps on offense.
“:It’s weird being back out there, I haven’t been out there in awhile. It’s good to get back into the flow,” said Bostick, who learned he’d been cleared to practice on Wednesday morning, after running and working out for the medical staff on Tuesday. “I felt fine when I was out there running.”
Asked if he thought he could play Sunday, Bostick replied, “I felt fine. Tomorrow will be the real test, full pads. We’ll just go from there.
“Going full pads, we’ll see how that goes. … I’m just trying to get back out there right now. I don’t know how much I’ll contribute on offense. I’m doing special teams now, just working there.”
Bulaga took part in practice on a limited basis, which was an accomplishment in itself given that he left last Thursday’s game and did not return because of the knee injury. Bulaga reportedly suffered damage to the medial collateral ligament in his left knee, the same knee in which he had a torn anterior cruciate ligament repaired last year.
GREEN BAY – Bart Starr, the Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback and one of the most beloved figures in Green Bay Packers history, is recovering from a mild stroke he suffered last week, Starr’s family and the organization announced Wednesday.
The family said Starr, 80, is expected to make a full recovery but remains hospitalized.
“Last week Bart Starr suffered a mild ischemic stroke, but is very functional and making progress every day,” the family said in a statement released by the team. “He is in the care of his physicians and therapists, and will be released as soon as he regains his strength. Bart’s doctors are confident for a full recovery. We remain grateful for your love and concern.”
Said Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy in a statement: “Everyone in the Packers family extends our best wishes to Bart for a quick recovery. On behalf of all our fans, we hope to see Bart and Cherry at Lambeau Field soon.”
Last month, former Packers quarterback Brett Favre said he hoped to be joined by Starr when he returned to Lambeau Field this fall for a visit.
“Just thinking out loud, wouldn’t it be nice, and I don’t want to speak for [Murphy] or anyone within the organization, but wouldn’t it be nice to flip the coin with Bart Starr prior to the game? I’ve got chills right now thinking about it,” Favre suggested. “I just think that fans, that would be an electric moment. And again, another honor. I’ve always said that about Bart. If we could get that done, it would be an amazing moment.”
Starr forged a friendship with Favre and later befriended Aaron Rodgers, with whom he has become very close. When Rodgers won the prestigious Bart Starr Award for character and leadership last season, he spoke of how much the Starr Award meant to him because of their friendship.
“It means a lot, mostly because I get to stand with my personal role model,” Rodgers, who first met Starr at the Packers’ 2006 Fan Fest event, said of winning the award. “(Starr is know) not only by his play, but more importantly by his work off the field. I think as a football player, you realize you want to be eventually known for more than just playing football.”
GREEN BAY – Dom Capers certainly didn’t promise any personnel changes following his defense’s disappointing performance in the season opener, but the Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator also didn’t give inside linebacker Brad Jones a ringing endorsement when asked about how Jones played against the Seattle Seahawks.
In fact, Capers wouldn’t say whether Jones will still start at inside linebacker this week against the New York Jets when asked if the coaches at least have to consider making a change at the position.
“One of the reasons we’re using more personnel groups is to try to have more variations and look at different people,” Capers replied in part. “We’ll come back and look at it, and as we get ready each week as we game plan, we go through and look at personnel and how can we get our best people on the field.”
On Friday, head coach Mike McCarthy said he would not make any “crazy changes” in response to his team’s 36-16 loss to the Seahawks, who rolled up 398 yards of offense, including 207 on the ground. Jones played 70 snaps and was charged with three missed tackles. He was credited with four tackles and also failed to hold onto a potential interception.
If the Packers wanted to make a change, they could play Jamari Lattimore in Jones’ place. Lattimore played a career-high 272 defensive snaps on defense last season, starting four games for an injured Jones and recording 38 tackles (31 solo), two sacks and a forced fumble. Second-year man Sam Barrington could also be in the mix, although he is the primary backup at the other inside linebacker spot, patrolled by A.J. Hawk.
“Obviously Jamari has the experience of playing last year, and I think Sam made really good strides through the preseason,” Capers said. “You never know if a guy’s ready until he goes out there under the bright lights.”
GREEN BAY – To hear Mike McCarthy tell it, the Green Bay Packers didn’t avoid Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman intentionally.
If anything, they were trying to bait the All-Pro cornerback into moving outside his comfort zone and leaving his spot on the left corner and move across the field to cover their No. 1 wideout, Jordy Nelson.
And when that didn’t happen, the Packers merely accepted the fact that their No. 3 wideout, Jarrett Boykin, was going against Sherman and didn’t throw that direction.
Rodgers was not asked after the game whether he made up his mind not to throw to Boykin and at Sherman, although Sherman did confront Rodgers quasi-playfully about avoiding him.
“I don't think you ever make a conscious decision not to throw to one side of the field,” McCarthy said Friday. “Frankly, it was more of a decision to put Jordy on the left and see if he would come over and play him. They played their defense and obviously they did a heck of a job. I'm sure they feel good about where they are today.”
Nelson did catch nine passes and was targeted 16 times in the game. But he had only 83 receiving yards and had Rodgers’ first interception of the season ricochet off his hands to the Seahawks “other” cornerback, Byron Maxwell. Rodgers also missed Nelson early in the game on a potential touchdown and had to settle for a field goal instead.
Asked after the game about their approach, Nelson said it only made sense for Rodgers to go to him more often than to Boykin against Sherman.
“Obviously we liked the matchup on the [my] side, and if they wanted to bring [Sherman] over we were going to put him in an uncomfortable spot," Nelson said. "They stayed with their defense, which I was expecting the whole time. We made some plays. I think if we hit the touchdown between Aaron and I early in the game, it's a different story.”
In an exchange captured by NBC Sports following the game, lip-readers could see Sherman ask Rodgers something to the effect of, “You avoided me, didn’t you?” To which Rodgers appeared to reply, “Yep.”
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers are hopeful that Eddie Lacy’s second diagnosed concussion in less than a year won’t keep him sidelined for next week’s game against the New York Jets at Lambeau Field.
The Packers second-year running back suffered a concussion early in the fourth quarter of the team’s 36-16 season-opening loss to the Seattle Seahawks, but according to coach Mike McCarthy, Lacy is already on the road to recovery, which would indicate that the concussion was a mild one.
“I haven’t seen Eddie today, but I was told Eddie feels very good today,” McCarthy told reporters Friday. “He’s already started the concussion protocol and has cleared the first step.”
Lacy suffered a concussion in the second game of last season when notorious headhunter Brandon Meriweather delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit on him. Lacy missed the following week’s game at Cincinnati. That hit was a direct shot, while the hit that caused Lacy’s concussion Thursday wasn’t as clear.
Early in the fourth quarter, Lacy caught a screen pass and gained 12 yards, colliding with Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor. Lacy stayed in the game and carried for 3 yards on the next play, when Chancellor again hit Lacy with what appeared it might’ve been a glancing blow. Immediately after the play, Lacy exited the game and was replaced by James Starks.
Lacy left CenturyLink Field wearing sunglasses and was not allowed to talk to reporters in accordance with NFL concussion protocol.
“The biggest thing of any medical situation, particularly Eddie Lacy, [is] we were always going to go through the process,” McCarthy said. “I think it’s been clearly stated that we don’t take unnecessary risk for the players. We’ll just trust our medical staff.”