Prior to getting injured and becoming one of the Packers 15 players lost for the year on IR, Mark Tauscher was not having a great season. At least he wasn’t as solid as he was after coming back from knee surgery last year when he stabilized the Green Bay OL during the second half of the season. When Tauscher went down, the Packers responded by inserting rookie left tackle Brian Bulaga into Tauscher’s RT spot, a position Bulaga had little experience playing. He has done OK, but there have been rough patches as one would expect for a rookie (even a talented one with a bright future) thrust into such a situation. One of those happened late in the game last Sunday and it was discussed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today:
Bulaga made a rare mental error at the end of the Packers’ 31-27 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday that put a major crimp in the offense’s hopes for a last-minute comeback. Rather than pick up an outside blitzer, Bulaga blocked down on the end and allowed quarterback Matt Flynn to be sacked for an 8-yard loss with 53 seconds left.Not only did it push the Packers back to the Patriots’ 32, it forced them to use their last timeout so they could regroup.“I’ve been pretty solid with assignments the whole year,” Bulaga said. “I was pretty solid with assignments that whole game to be honest with you. We had that look multiple times; we picked it up multiple times, and just that one the communication was off.“I was on a different page and that’s the kind of stuff that happens when everyone isn’t on the same page.”
That’s what happens to a rookie OT who is learning a new position on the job. Injury forced him into the line up and required him to move to the right side, not his natural position. Episodes like those described in the article are emblematic of the fallout from losing players to injury…something the Packers have excelled at this season.