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Bulaga's Final Test

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Bulaga's Final Test

When Bryan Bulaga was selected with the 23rd overall pick in the NFL Draft last April, conventional wisdom held that the young lineman would sit behind the likes of Chad Clifton and Daryn Colledge for a year (although Bulaga briefly competed for Colledge's job) while learning the ropes and gearing up to take over for Clifton or Colledge next season.

Of course, as we all know, things rarely go according to plan (or conventional wisdom for that matter). When Mark Tauscher went down during the October 3rd victory over the Detroit Lions and Bulaga was inserted into the lineup - even though he had taken minimal snaps at the position in practice and had never taken a snap there in any game, professional or otherwise.

As they year went along you saw Bulaga have his ups and downs as you would expect from any rookie. You saw the lows, such as the week he faced the Dolphins' Cameron Wake where he was seemingly overmatched when it came to Wake's third down pass rushing onslaught. But you never had to wait too long for a response from Bulaga, who came out the following week and shut down Ray Edwards and everything else the Vikings threw at him in a game the Packers simply could not afford to lose.

The kid out of Iowa has faced down everyone from Julius Peppers to Justin Tuck, and while he has had his fare share of struggles it has been an overall impressive body of work considering the fact that he had never played the position before this year and that he is consistently going up against veterans that want no part of Chad Clifton. He's been the starting point for almost every defensive coodinator that wants to try and figure out how to get pressure on Aaron Rodgers and for the most part he has risen to the challenge. The one glaring mistake he's made was on the final drive in New England when he inexplicably blocked down and let the left outside linebacker come clean for a momentum-killing sack.

Last week I wrote about the fantastic job the trio of Aaron Rodgers, Scott Wells and Brandon Jackson did when it came to setting pass protection against Dick LeBeau and the Steelers' blitz. In that meeting, the Steelers got to Rodgers a few times but only recorded one sack, and that was on a screen pass where Tauscher released early and Grant basically let the rushers through trying to get out to receive the pass from Rodgers.

You can bet LeBeau and company will be taking a long, hard look at the rookie that didn't play in the 2009 matchup and how they can try and take advantage.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (19) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

ILpackfan's picture

Bulaga is a class act and I hope he plays well for the pack for the next 15 years. I really like this kid. He is a good kid with a good family and has a good head on his shoulders.

packeraaron's picture

Totally agree. I met him right after he was drafted by the Packers at Radio City and he could not have been nicer and more genuine in his excitement at being a Green Bay Packer.

mel's picture

Just look at the Guy... he fits the text book mold of a Packer Lineman!!!

CSS's picture

Again, he's only 21. He's the type of kid that's willing to put in the time and study/workout in the offseason.

PackersRS's picture

I was gonna bring up his age as well.

Baring any freakish incident, such as injury/crime, we have a tackle for the next 14 years at least.

He's only 21, he's going through a trial of fire, he's at the SB, and he's gonna face one of the league's best in Woodley.

He'll only get better. It's scary, as with Matthews. And Rodgers. Starks. Jennings. Sitton. Raji...

Man. Think about it. 90% of our players are only going to get better...

mark's picture

This is a great post, great point. Big test on Sunday for 75--and not just with the Steelers but with the Super Bowl jitters. Calm and disciplined football will go a long way toward victory. No penalties!

NoWay Jose's picture

+1. Bulaga doesnt need to be a hero on Sunday. His main goal should be avoiding the loss of focus amidst the chaos. More than against most teams, we really can't afford to have penalities stop us from converting first downs.

If he can just play steady, the big guy will do fine.

Cole's picture

He's going to be in GB for a long time. I can see him developoimg into an all pro at tackle.

Erik's picture

He has the makings of a great player. I look forward to see him grow as a player and a Packer.

The line is starting to jell as a unit. BB is a big contributor in that change.

Dayne Shuda's picture

#1 I'm surprised he's able to play any position with his tyrannosaurus arms. I kid. I kid.

This guy is amazing. He's a great person and a solid football player. I'm excited to have him playing well for the Pack.

#2 Are we sure he isn't McCarthy's son? Those two have eerily similar mannerisms.

I can't wait for Sunday.

some guy's picture

Congrats to Bulaga on a solid rookie campaign.

haven't heard much about him in the playoffs. for a lineman, there isn't a better compliment. seems like Rodgers has received minimal pressure from his right side in this 5 game run...

lebowski's picture

I miss Allen Barbre.

DBH's picture

+1

yAy. Barbie.

Tarynfor 12's picture

Are the Packers the youngest team ever to play in the Super Bowl?

Oppy's picture

This isn't just a test under the bright lights of the superbowl, but a test under the pressure, speed, and physicality of perhaps the best edge rushing duo in the league.

Woodley and Harrison combine for 150 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 9 forced fumbles, and 4 INTs... on the season. That's freakin' ridiculous.

Talk about trial by fire.

If he takes his lumps, it will be a lesson that will temper him and prepare him for the future. Great learning experience that will benefit him.

And If Bryan can hold up to the pressure (both figuratively and literally), it could be one of those defining, confidence-inspiring performances that catapults a career forward to that next level.

chicago hooligan's picture

Anyone else shocked to see Tony Moll still getting snaps in Baltimore this year? Woof.

Anyway, remember this? - http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcnorth/post/_/id/13373/home-run-derby-wraps-pa...

"Rookie left tackle Bryan Bulaga won the event by hitting the longest ball. When the tarp was removed, the car was revealed to be a beat-up Saturn with no trunk or doors. Spray-painted on the car were these words: "To Super Bowl -- Dallas."

MarkinMadison's picture

He definitely had some down moments in December. And I think there were few moments in January too, but #12 covered them over by making plays. His up-side is exciting. If he has a solid game against the Steelers I think that it will answer the question about the LT position, for anyone who is still asking. I'm sold that he can at least be a viable starting LT for the next 10 years. As for being a good guy, that't just obvious. He played at Iowa. Who ever heard of an Iowa player being charged with a crime?

JerseyPackFan's picture

Look at him, happy as hell but still focused! Sunday he gets to show the world why the Packers took him as their number one pick. Best of luck to the kid!

Traxx's picture

IF You Love the Packers "Do the Green & Yellow Rock" http://youtu.be/0Qcb3MyJcrI

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