Green Bay Packers fans received quite a scare in Thursday’s opener when Bryan Bulaga fell to the ground and clutched his left knee. It was a familiar sight, as Bulaga missed the entire 2013 season with a torn ACL in the same knee. Just as Packers fans were getting used to having the former All-Rookie Team votee back in action, the training staff was hovering over him and the broadcast went to commercial. After the game, coach Mike McCarthy labeled the injury as a sprained knee. He suggested that he had avoided another major surgery, saying, “We do not fear a major injury.”
Knee injuries are obviously never good news, but the severity of each injury ranges from minimal to “can’t-walk” depending upon which part of the knee is involved, and how badly that part is damaged. The injury is not, “major,” but let’s not be quick to call it, “minor.” There is another adjective in play here, and that is, “moderate.” The only thing we can really take away from McCarthy’s statement is that Bulaga likely doesn’t need surgery.
A knee sprain means that he tore a ligament in his knee. His ACL, MCL, PCL, and patellar ligaments are all technically in play, and we’re not sure of the severity of the tear. It’s not clear if he’s had an MRI yet, but the Packers training staff likely performed the Lachman Test on Bulaga to evaluate whether or not he had an ACL injury. Had this manual test indicated ACL damage, they would have waited for an MRI to rule out a major injury.
Often times, an MRI cannot be performed immediately, either due to access to the MRI, or to swelling rendering the results unreadable. The full extent of Bulaga’s injury, including timetable will not be known until he has an MRI, but it’s fair to expect Bulaga to miss anywhere from 1 week to 2 months.
This is certainly a blow to the Packers, who are already missing their starting center, J.C. Tretter, for 8 weeks with a fractured left knee, as well as Bulaga’s backup, Dan Barclay. Derek Sherrod filled in for Bulaga when he left the game, and at times it wasn’t pretty. On multiple occasions, Seattle defenders ran past Sherrod completely untouched, as if we were watching an episode Breaking Madden.
(Not Derek Sherrod, but close. Created by Jon, courtesy of SBNation)
If you have Rodgers or any of his receivers on your fantasy team, you’ll want to follow this injury closely. Rodgers put up gaudy numbers without Bulaga last season, but he also got hit a lot and missed several weeks due a broken clavicle. While Eddie Lacy thrived in a Bulaga-less offense last season, it only makes sense to assume that he’d thrive even more in a Bulaga-full offense.
For those of you worried about his fantasy impact, we’re hopeful that Bulaga will return quickly. But if he’s going to miss any serious time, it may be time to invest in FantasyPro’s Playbook.