Bryan Bulaga has used a great deal of his free time the past six weeks becoming more proficient at “Call of Duty.”
The Green Bay Packers right tackle normally doesn’t have much time during the season for video games, but his third NFL season ended Nov. 4 when the Packers beat Arizona, 31-17, at Lambeau Field. He suffered a fracture of his left hip and later was placed on injured reserve, so he’s playing more than watching video these days.
It is the first time Bulaga has been unable to finish a football season, although he ditched his crutches last week and will be on the sideline with the Packers (9-4) today when they meet the Bears (8-5) at noon at Soldier Field.
“It’s pretty hard to travel with the team when you’re on crutches,” said Bulaga, who grew up in Crystal Lake and graduated from Marian Central in 2007. “I’ve been nicked up, but never had to sit out a season. This is new for me to watch the remainder from the sideline. For how it feels right now, it feels great compared to when it initially happened.”
The word Bulaga kept using when describing what happened was “weird.” His left leg locked in an awkward position as his body shifted. He tripped on a teammate’s foot and when he tried to regain his balance, all his body weight was absorbed by the hip joint.
While Bulaga was added to an already lengthy list of injured Packers, his long-term prognosis is quite favorable.
Bulaga said a specialist and the team’s doctor say they think he will be near 100 percent by the Super Bowl in early February. At that point, he should be ready to resume training.
“It’s just kind of a funky injury,” Bulaga said. “It’s serious, but how fast I’ve healed is pretty remarkable. You never really know how long something’s going to take to heal. It’s been great.”
The Packers can clinch their second straight NFC North Division title with a victory today. Bulaga suffered a knee injury last season at Soldier Field, but was able to return a few weeks later and finish the season.
Bulaga’s injury did not require surgery and his specialist said the labrum in the hip socket looks good.
“It’s clean, there’s no structural damage and no ligament damage, nothing was stretched out,” Bulaga said. “That’s an encouraging thing. It won’t be something that bothers me long-term. To get in that position again, it was a rare thing to start out with.”