Bulaga Placed on IR; So'oto Bolsters OLBs

Bryan Bulaga's season is over with a dislocated hip, leaving the Packers perilously thin on the offensive line. The prognosis is Bulaga will avoid surgery, but a final decision has not been made. There at least was some good news on the injury front as the team returned from its bye on Monday.

If the bruised and battered Green Bay Packers are going to compete for a championship, they'll have to do so without standout right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Monday.

According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette's Rob Demovsky, Bulaga sustained a dislocated hip during the first half of the Nov. 4 game against Arizona. He "potentially" will not need surgery, according to coach Mike McCarthy. Bulaga will have a checkup in about four weeks to make that determination.

"Bryan Bulaga has a significant hip injury," McCarthy said. "It's something that there's a lot of conversation about the timeline of a possible return. The more people we talked to, we felt it was best obviously to put him on IR. His long-term health is always at the forefront of these decisions."

The Packers filled Bulaga's roster spot by re-signing outside linebacker Vic So'oto. About an hour into Monday's practice, Zombo trotted onto the Don Hutson Center practice field.

The Packers are thin on the offensive line and outside linebacker.

On the offensive line, the Packers will proceed with how they finished the Arizona game: T.J. Lang at right tackle and Evan Dietrich-Smith filling Lang's spot at left guard. The only backups are a pair of undrafted rookies: guard/tackle Don Barclay and guard Greg Van Roten. Derek Sherrod, the 2011 first-round pick, practiced for the first time this year after breaking a leg at Kansas City in December. It's almost inconceivable that he could help in the next couple of weeks.

"They looked good in a practice environment," McCarthy said of Barclay and Van Roten. "They're working hard. They're growing as far as their understanding of what's asked of them. It's obviously a challenge when you play backup positions because you don't really get to set into just one spot and learn the intricacies of every position. They're hard workers, they're smart, they're tough and they know the challenges in front of them, so I'm excited about both Don and Greg."

Clay Matthews (hamstring) was not at practice and would seem to be a long shot to play on Sunday at Detroit. That left the Packers with Erik Walden, Dezman Moses and Frank Zombo at the position until So'oto showed up. Moses presumably will start for Matthews; Zombo was activated from the physically unable to perform list (hamstring) before the Arizona game but did not play; So'oto played four games for Oakland but was released on Tuesday.

"Clay's a playmaker, whether he's actually making a play or freeing up someone else to make a play," Moses said. "You can't really substitute that. We're going to miss him. I'm sure everyone else will step up and do what they have to do. That's what being a team is about."

Meanwhile, fullback John Kuhn (hamstring), cornerback Sam Shields (ankle), receiver Jordy Nelson (ankle) and defensive end Jerel Worthy (concussion) returned to practice. Not participating were cornerback Charles Woodson (collarbone), Matthews, receiver Greg Jennings (abdomen) and defensive end Mike Neal (ankle).

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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