Bulaga Leans On Selective Memory

With his miscues last Sunday against Chicago, first-round pick Bryan Bulaga gave himself a couple of distinctions he would like to forget. And that is just what he's doing with his first playoff game ahead Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia.

As is often the case with offensive lineman, rookies especially, the news only comes when there is something bad to report.

So, not surprisingly, Green Bay Packers first-round pick Bryan Bulaga knew the questions were coming about his four-penalty game against the Bears, even three days after the fact. And he was ready, putting no less than three questions about it to rest with essentially the same three-sentence answer on Wednesday.

"I'm past that," he said. "It's done. We're moving on."

Nonetheless, Bulaga's errors were a factor that needed to be addressed. His second-quarter holding penalty — a questionable call while blocking Henry Melton — negated a 33-yard completion from Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings. His two false-start penalties put the Packers in longer third-down situations. They did not covert either one. A second holding penalty wiped out what would have been the Packers' longest run of the day, a 9-yarder by James Starks.

Like Bulaga, coach Mike McCarthy has seemed to turn the page, too, on his big right tackle's mistakes, choosing to use them as a learning experience.

"We had an opportunity to correct the film with the offensive players and Bryan obviously saw the film, the corrections," said McCarthy. "He is a young player. It's playoff time. He fully understands the level of play increases this time of year. He has made progress throughout the season and I'm fully confident that he'll make progress this week."

The up-and-down nature of Bulaga's first season in the NFL should really come as no surprise. Consider he moved around to different positions in training camp and then was thrust into a starting role after Mark Tauscher went down, and it is easy to see why there may be an occasional error in his play. Plus, he has made just 12 career starts.

A good example of Bulaga's inconsistency can be seen over the last three games. On Dec. 19 against the Patriots, he blew a protection on a pass play that led to a sack during the crucial final moments of a comeback bid by the Packers, yet he and his offensive linemates put together their best run-blocking game of the season.

A week later, he responded with a solid all-around performance against Justin Tuck in must-win game against the Giants to stay alive in the playoff race.

Then came the Bears game, which he knows he has to put behind him quickly to rebound against an aggressive Eagles' defense.

"They do bring a lot of different pressures and do bring a lot of different looks," said Bulaga, "but this is a veteran group. I'm the youngest guy on it. I think I've seen a good bit of pressures though. Obviously, they could always cook up something new, which I'm sure they will, but you've got to be disciplined and everyone needs to be on the same page with the assignments and calls and everything should be alright."

Bulaga's nine accepted penalties this season (six false starts, three holding calls) were the most by any offensive player on the Packers' roster. But until his unusually high number last Sunday, he was about on par with other rookie offensive linemen during the McCarthy era who have made significant contributions.

In 2006, Daryn Colledge (15 starts) had six penalties, Tony Moll (10 starts) had five, and Jason Spitz (13 starts) had three.

The only other offensive lineman, however, to commit four penalties in one game since McCarthy took over was left tackle Chad Clifton (Oct. 18, 2009 vs. Lions). Therefore, Bulaga would like to put last Sunday's game behind him as quickly as he does each individual play.

"I think it's more just if you make a mistake you move on to the next play," he said. "You can't really let the play that happened previously … you can't be thinking about it too much because then you'll mess up that next play. It will just be a snowball effect, so just learning from your mistakes and moving on to the next play and having a short-term memory."


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Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com


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