Bulaga is doing everything well in 2019. His reps and health were managed throughout the spring and summer to get him in peak form for Week 1, and he’s now dealing with a shoulder injury but playing through it.
Stenavich complimented Bulaga on both his consistency and his film study of opponents, showing no setbacks in preparation when his snaps have to be limited in practice. So far through five weeks he’s faced Chicago’s Khalil Mack, Minnesota’s Danielle Hunter, Denver’s Von Miller, Philadelphia’s Brandon Graham and Dallas’ DeMarcus Lawrence and hasn’t given up a sack.
Rodgers has been sacked only 10 times total in five games (and one of those he took intentionally in Dallas), putting him on pace for his fewest over a full season since 2014. A big part of that low total has been Bulaga’s work.
“I was thinking about that the other day – you really don’t get any weeks off in this league for sure, especially with the schedule we’ve had,” Stenavich said. “But Bryan’s been playing his butt off. True pro, great leader in our room, and obviously his play on the field is reflected in all that.
“He knows what he needs to prepare, he’ll get himself right to play, and we can trust he knows what he needs.”
The Packers needed Patrick to take on some tough duty when Linsley went out, ending the veteran center’s streak of more than 2,700 consecutive snaps that dated back to December of 2016.
A guard through his first two seasons in Green Bay, Patrick has worked as a backup center extensively in practice but hadn’t played there in a regular-season game until Sunday. A couple of wayward shotgun snaps when he was moving laterally for a reach block were fortunately snagged by Jones as he was cutting in front of Rodgers. Stenavich’s description was Patrick “torqued the ball a little bit” on those two occasions, so the timing and technique will need to be smoothed out.
But overall, Patrick’s performance was solid and there were no limitations to what the offense was running with him in at center. The players don’t return to the practice field until Thursday this week, one day later than normal due to next week’s Monday night game, so the team will know more then about Linsley’s potential status against Detroit and whether Patrick will be in the lineup again.
“I was proud of the way he went in and competed,” Stenavich said of Patrick. “He plays with great effort. He kept our offense rolling when Corey went down. That’s always the biggest thing when you bring a center in is his communication, his targeting, he has to get everyone on point. I was fired up with how he did that.”
Rodgers was proud of him as well. After the game Sunday, the quarterback recounted a story about a conversation over lunch midway through training camp when Patrick was “struggling a little bit mentally,” but he’s turned things around considerably over the last several weeks.
“Since the end of training camp he’s really gained a lot of confidence in the scheme,” Rodgers said, “where he can step in on a tough environment with a really good front and be effective.”