Bulaga has knee sprain, bruise; Grant also hurt
Given the Packers’ recent history with season-ending injuries, it could have been much worse.
“Talking to Dr. (Pat) McKenzie after the game, he felt that we dodged a bullet, to use his words, based on his examination,” McCarthy said.
Bulaga went down with an apparent injury to his left knee in the first quarter Sunday at Soldier Field. It looked bad when Bulaga first went to the turf, but the injury isn’t as bad as the Packers first feared.
“A normal conversation for me on Mondays, talking with the players and talking with the medical staff, is, the players feel they’re going to play and be fine, and the medical staff is more concerned,”
McCarthy said. “So there’ll be more information that’s gathered here, and hopefully I’ll have a better handle on it Wednesday.”
He won’t be the only player the Packers are watching.
McCarthy said running back Ryan Grant bruised a kidney and took a shot in the mouth but finished the game, turning in an impressive 17-carry, 92-yard performance. Backup outside linebacker Brad Jones strained his hamstring.
McCarthy didn’t provide a timeline on any of the injured players’ potential return to practice or availability for Sunday’s game against Denver at Lambeau Field.
Marshall Newhouse, a second-year player out of TCU, played well in relief of Bulaga.
“I thought Marshall played a good game,” McCarthy said. “Coming off the bench on the road he did a lot of good things. There are some things that he’ll improve on, some technique plays that he can do a better job on.”
Newhouse said if he did have any jitters coming in cold off the bench, they didn’t last very long.
“More like after the first play, realizing that it’s still football and that I can play, I’m here for a reason,” Newhouse said. “My teammates picked me up, and the goal is to go out there and win. I didn’t want to play OK. I wanted to play to help us win.”
Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said Newhouse did a good job in pass protection but had a “couple things here and there” that he can improve on in the running game. Philbin said Newhouse’s overall performance was particularly impressive given his relative lack of practice time at right tackle.
“I couldn’t guess at how many reps he gets, but it’s not a ton so he has to be ready,” Philbin said. “We like to tell those guys that there’s certain truth, football’s football. But obviously when he’s working scout team he’s not getting the ‘over’ defense and all the twists and line moves that the Bears used. It’s an adjustment, it’s a challenge for a guy when he steps in.”
Newhouse said he’s “absolutely” confident there won’t be a drop-off in the offense’s productivity if he’s called on to start Sunday.
“From the start of the season, I’ve always been ready for anything to happen, preparing during the week for anything to happen,” Newhouse said. “This is something that happened, unfortunately, and we’re hoping for Bryan’s recovery. But for now, just take it as it comes.”
Newhouse isn’t as heralded as the Packers’ 2011 first-round pick, Derek Sherrod — but at this point in their careers, Newhouse is the better player.
McCarthy said he isn’t disappointed that the Packers haven’t gotten more out of Sherrod, who has been inactive for the first three games.
“I think it’s convenient criticism, questioning when you go after your first-round pick,” McCarthy said. “I’m very pleased with Derek, where he is in his progress. Derek and Marshall are both young talented players that need to play.
“Marshall’s a little bit ahead of Derek in the experience category, and that’s why Marshall has this opportunity. And it’s really in his best interests to keep it. I’m very pleased with the way Marshall played, I’m very pleased with his development in year one, year two, not having the offseason program. So you’ve got two young tackles we’re excited about.”