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Packers suffer blow on offensive line

Associated Press Published: November 12, 2012

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Right tackle Bryan Bulaga's season is over, and the Green Bay Packers are one more offensive line injury away from having to play an undrafted rookie free agent.

Bulaga was placed on injured reserve Monday, becoming the Packers' fifth significant contributor to be lost for the season. He joins linebackers Desmond Bishop (hamstring), D.J. Smith (knee) and Nick Perry (wrist), along with running back Brandon Saine (knee). Running back Cedric Benson is on IR but could return next month.

Bulaga suffered a dislocated hip against Arizona on Nov. 4, and the team's medical staff determined it was too risky for Bulaga to return.

"His long-term health is always at the forefront of these decisions," coach Mike McCarthy said. "If you ask Bryan . you walk in there Monday morning, he's out there working out, no crutches, not saying nice things about the doctors, which is nice to hear. (He's saying) he wants to play and he's going to be fine."

McCarthy said the early diagnosis is that Bulaga will not need surgery, but a final decision will be made in several weeks.

When Bulaga went out early in the second quarter against the Cardinals, the Packers shifted left guard T.J. Lang to right tackle and brought Evan Dietrich-Smith in off the bench to replace Lang at left guard. The only backup offensive linemen currently on the 53-man roster are undrafted rookie free agents Don Barclay and Greg Van Roten.

The team's 2011 first-round draft pick, Derek Sherrod, is on the physically unable to perform list because of the broken leg he suffered last December and he practiced on Monday for the first time in almost a year. The Packers must decide whether to activate him or place him on season-ending injured reserve by Nov. 28.

In the meantime, if something happens to another starter, Barclay or Van Roten would be pressed into service.

"Green Bay always seems to find one or two of those free-agent guys that maybe played tackle in college, they move them around, put them at center or guard or whatever. These guys have come in and done a nice job of fitting in with us and playing different positions," right guard Josh Sitton said. "They've grown over the course of the year. ... They're both good players, both real smart. We would feel confident having them out there."

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