The Green Bay Packers locked up another member of their offensive line when the team and left guard T.J. Lang agreed to a four-year contract extension Monday.
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga is expected to return for Sunday’s game against St. Louis after missing two games with a knee injury.
However, second-year safety Morgan Burnett broke his right hand in practice Thursday and didn’t participate in Friday’s workout. He is listed as probable for the game and expects to play, but he was fitted for a cast that could limit his ability to defend passes.
“It’s no biggie,” said Burnett, who hit the hand on a shoulder pad in a blitz drill. “It could happen to anybody, at any time.”
Burnett is tied for the team lead with three interceptions.
“He clubbed (the hand) today,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “Any time you have a broken bone in your hand, there’s things you have to look at, but he feels and (team) doctor (Pat) McKenzie feels that he can potentially play with this.”
Burnett is having a productive season thus far, a year after his promising rookie season ended after only four games because of a knee injury. Besides the interceptions, Burnett has a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and ranks second on the team with 39 tackles.
Burnett said wearing the club-like cast Friday felt funny, but he is optimistic the covering on the fractured hand won’t be a hindrance to making plays.
“Just try to focus on the ball a little more, focus on the threads and just try to make the best of those opportunities, the same way if you had both hands,” Burnett said.
The Packers’ depth at safety already has been thinned after losing Pro Bowl player Nick Collins to a season-ending neck injury after just two games. Charlie Peprah, who started 13 games with Burnett out last season, has filled in for Collins and played well of late with an interception in each of the last two games.
Undrafted rookie M.D. Jennings is the only backup safety on the depth chart. He filled in for Burnett in Friday’s practice and has been strictly a contributor on special teams after 15 tackles and an interception during the preseason.
“We were impressed with him in camp,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “He kind of falls under that philosophy of ‘next man up’ for us if Morgan goes out or Morgan’s having a hard time playing with his cast.”
The Packers (5-0) will be without veteran left tackle Chad Clifton for an indefinite period because of a hamstring injury. Marshall Newhouse, who replaced Bulaga in the starting lineup, is expected to take over for Clifton against the Rams (0-4).
First-round rookie Derek Sherrod played well at right tackle when Newhouse moved to the left side after Clifton was hurt in the first half of last Sunday’s win at Atlanta. McCarthy said he’s eager to have Bulaga back.
“When he’s cleared to play, he’s cleared to play, and we need to play him,” McCarthy said. “Bryan Bulaga is ready to go. He’ll play in this game. That’s what he was told at the beginning of the week, and that’ll be the approach.”
Bulaga said he will continue to wear a protective brace on the knee that he had in practice this week and is planning to play the full game Sunday.
“I haven’t gotten any official word on what’s going on, but if I do happen to start the game, I would like to ride it out and finish it,” Bulaga said.
Notes: LB Frank Zombo is expected to make his belated season debut for the Packers on Sunday. Zombo suffered a broken shoulder blade Aug. 19 and returned to practice last week. “I truly feel like it’s 100 percent,” said Zombo, who is probable for the game. “I don’t feel any pain. It’s not weak or anything.” . LB Clay Matthews (quadriceps) and CB Charles Woodson (foot/knee) practiced Friday after being out the last two days. WR Greg Jennings also was back on the field after dropping out of Thursday’s practice with a groin injury. All three players are probable for the game.
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers say running back Ryan Grant and right tackle Bryan Bulaga won’t play Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
The team ruled them out on Friday.
Bulaga suffered a sprain and bruise of his left knee in the first quarter of the Packers’ 27-17 win at Chicago last weekend. Grant rushed for a season-high 92 yards against the Bears but bruised his kidney on a hit to his back.
“There’s a protocol you have to go through, and the staff does not feel that he’s ready to go,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “I’m sure Ryan would like to go, but he has not been released from the medical staff. The same thing with Bryan Bulaga.”
Grant had been splitting carries in the first three games with James Starks, who will make the start Sunday. Marshall Newhouse, a second-year player, will make his first pro start as the replacement for Bulaga.
After he missed nearly the entire Super Bowl-winning season for the Packers in 2010 because of an ankle injury in the opener, Grant didn’t take the news well Friday that he would miss another game.
“If it was my call, I’d play,” Grant said.
The fifth-year player said he has felt fine most of the week and hasn’t seen any blood in his urine, which he did after Sunday’s game before he was taken to a Chicago hospital.
“The soreness that I have, I don’t think it has anything to do with my kidney,” Grant said Friday. “It’s nothing that I wouldn’t think that I couldn’t play with. But at the end of the day, I’ve got to trust the doctors, and they’re telling me that it’s something that I should be cautious about, and if I’ve got to sit out, I’ve got to sit out.”
Grant expects to get the OK to play in the Oct. 9 game at Atlanta.
Bulaga is ahead of schedule in his recovery, McCarthy said. Newhouse played well last week and the coaching staff was optimistic the young player is ready for his starting debut.
“It’s a big opportunity,” McCarthy said. “He did a good job down there in Chicago. He needs to take that next step, clear this next hurdle.”
Newhouse will be the fifth Green Bay player to line up at right tackle beside Josh Sitton since the talented right guard broke into the starting lineup toward the end of his rookie season in 2008.
Sitton has no reservations about Newhouse’s ability to handle the first-time assignment.
“Marshall is a smart kid, knows what he’s doing out there,” Sitton said. “It’s kind of a seamless transition. He’s smart, so it’s not like I’ve got to freakin’ baby him.”
Notes: LB Clay Matthews said Friday he’s not concerned he has only one sack after three games. The All-Pro had six sacks at the same point last season and finished with a career-high 17, including the playoffs. “Sacks are a very misleading statistic,” Matthews said. “I’m doing my job, which is to put pressure on the quarterback. There’s no doubt about that.” Matthews, who has a nagging quadriceps injury, didn’t practice Friday but is probable for Sunday. … CBs Charles Woodson (foot/knee) and Tramon Williams (shoulder), TE Jermichael Finley (ankle), LT Chad Clifton (knee) and DE Ryan Pickett (foot) are also listed as probable for Sunday’s game.
© 2011 The Associated Press