How the injury to Packers' starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga impacts the Seahawks' defense

It is only Week Two of the 2015 NFL season and yet significant injuries to both the Packers and Seahawks could impact the outcome of this key conference game. For the Packers, the loss of starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga is the biggest blow. Seattle could also be missing their right tackle as Garry Gilliam is one of four Seahawks officially listed as questionable for Sunday night.

An offensive line that Packer Report insider Bill Huber characterized as not having "a weak link" suddenly found one Thursday when starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga went down in practice with a sprained MCL that will sideline him for Sunday night's game against the Seahawks.

Bulaga is expected to be replaced by Don Barclay, a four-year veteran out of West Virginia who didn't see the field a year ago after suffering a torn ACL. He started 14 games at right tackle back in 2013 when it was Bulaga recovering from the same injury.

Losing Bulaga is significant as he's one of the better right tackles in the NFL when healthy. Barclay isn't a bad player, himself, but the 6-4, 310 pounder has a frame better suited to guard and doesn't possess Bulaga's length, agility or power.

He graded out at a -8.5 in 2013 by Pro Football Focus, tying with then-rookie left David Bakhtiari in surrendering a team-high eight sacks in approximately 160 less snaps.
Starting left defensive end Michael Bennett, as well as reserves Frank Clark and Cassius Marsh could be the benefactors of the Packers' latest injury. Defensive coordinator Kris Richard may also look to send blitzing linebackers or defensive backs at Barclay.

Forcing Aaron Rodgers to come off of his first read and re-set his feet is critical, as the reigning MVP is the league's most accurate quarterback. If relying on outlet passes to "hot" receivers, Rodgers may look heavily towards slot receiver Randall Cobb, who could draw Richard Sherman, whose 24 interceptions since 2011 leads the NFL.

Another key performer could be out for Green Bay, as well, as safety Morgan Burnett was officially listed as questionable by head coach Mike McCarthy. Burnett missed the Packers' opening win over the Chicago Bears with a calf strain. His potential absence may not hinder the Packers as much as you might think, however. Burnett was replaced by veteran Micah Hyde, a former cornerback with enough fluidity to handle coverage duties as well as the pop to hold up against the run.

Seattle has injury concerns of its own with versatile outside linebacker Bruce Irvin, tackle Garry Gilliam and cornerback Tharold Simon each officially listed as questionable for Sunday night.

Irvin, who is battling a rib injury, is expected to play, Pete Carroll said Friday.

"I think we have him as questionable, but he looks good," Carroll said. "The thing that bothered him a little bit, he's had before. I think he's going to be fine."

Should Irvin not be able to play, Kevin Pierre-Louis would get the start. Alvin Bailey (who started at right tackle in the NFC Championship game) would take the place of Gilliam if he were unable to go. Simon missed Week One against the Rams. Versatile defensive back DeShawn Shead took his place in that contest.

Below are the final injury reports.

Packers injury report

Player (injury): Status for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Status.

OT Bryan Bulaga (knee): Not listed, Limited, DNP. Out.
S Morgan Burnett (calf): Limited, Limited, Limited. Questionable.
WR Randall Cobb (shoulder): Limited, Limited, Limited. Probable.
OLB Jayrone Elliott (quad): Limited, Limited, Limited. Probable.

Seahawks injury report

Player (injury): Status for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Status.

LB Mike Morgan (hamstring): Out
DE Michael Bennett (ankle): Limited, Full, Full. Probable.
DE Demarcus Dobbs (back): Not listed, DNP, Full. Probable.
RB Marshawn Lynch (not injury related): DNP, Full, Full. Probable.
LB Bobby Wagner (ankle): Limited, Full, Full. Probable.
OT Garry Gilliam (Rib): Not listed, Limited, Limited. Questionable.
LB Bruce Irvin (Rib): Not listed, DNP, Limited. Questionable.
CB Tharold Simon (toe): DNP, DNP, Limited. Questionable.
FB Will Tukuafu (foot): Limited, Full, Limited. Questionable.


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