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Bryan Bulaga Press Conference Transcript - April 29

Read the transcript of the press conference featuring first-round draft pick Bryan Bulaga on Thursday from Lambeau Field.

(Would your preference be to play left tackle?)

I played left tackle for the two years at Iowa and I played left guard. I think I am versatile enough that I can kick inside or kick over to the right side. I'd like to play left tackle, but obviously there is a lot of work that comes with that. You have to earn that position; that is not just given out. Is that the position I played at Iowa? Yeah, but I think I can move around the offensive line and give the team a couple of different options.

(On one hand Chad Clifton has been here 10 years and you want to be deferential to him, but you also want to play. How do you approach that?)

Yeah, I think I just need to come in and work hard 100 percent of the time and just compete. Obviously I'm going to be able to learn a lot from Chad. He has been around the league and he has done a very good job here. He has done a great job, and anytime I can learn something from him, I will. When I am out on the field I am going to compete and go as hard as I can. That is really all I know how to do is go out there and play football and do my best.

(How could you tell you were back to full strength after the thyroid issue?)

I could just tell by weight-room numbers, by just how I feel physically. My weight-room numbers were down significantly when the thyroiditis hit. Recovering from it and coming back, just when I was training for the combine I felt full strength and running and doing position work and stuff like that. I felt good. I felt like my stamina was back. I was able to go for longer periods of time without becoming fatigued. I think I have been back for a while. I think kind of toward the middle of the season I was at full strength physically. So I think I have been back for a while, but you can tell by my weight-room numbers that I have been back.

(Was there a game where you felt like you were back?)

I felt really good the Michigan State week. My stamina was back and my strength, I felt pretty strong and quick on my feet and light on my feet. So I think the Michigan State game was a good estimation point for that.

(There was a story going around that the thyroid issue was because of a tattoo going wrong?)

I don't know. That was just an Iowa City rumor. A lot of things go around at Iowa City. It had nothing to do with the tattoo. I don't even know if you can get thyroiditis from a tattoo, to be honest. No, that is just not true.

(Did they know what virus it was or where it came from?)

It could have just been a cold virus. It could have been a flu virus. They said I must have caught something during camp. Obviously you are around a lot of people and you're doing a lot of things during camp, and they said I could have caught it during camp. As it was trying to leave the body it landed in the thyroid and caused all of the symptoms to happen.

(How serious was it?)

The levels were elevated around three times higher than what they should have been. If you are working with the levels that elevated, your heart rate tends to increase triple the amount, and it's going to speed up very fast. That could cause heart attacks, which was the main issue of it was the effect on my heart. That was the one thing they wanted to monitor. Once I did a bunch of tests and it came back down to normal, I was able to go back in. That was the one thing, the increased heart rate, that they were really worried about. The weight loss and all that, that all comes with it. I was able to gain the weight back, but it was really the heart-rate issue that worried them the most.

(What were those three weeks like when you couldn't play?)

It was terrible, to be honest, because I wasn't able to not just play football, but I wasn't able to lift weights, run, jog, ride a bike. I kind of had to just walk around and stand and watch practice. I wasn't really able to do anything. Standing around for three weeks isn't fun at all, and as you are standing around for three weeks you're losing weight, you're getting out of shape. All of the work you have put in from the offseason and the winter up to that point is pretty much gone because this thing is hitting you and it's doing a pretty good job on you. All you have got to do is just stand around and let it happen and wait for it to pass.

(What was it like going to class?)

What was it like going to class? Well, is it ever fun going to class?

(Was it hard to stay awake?)

Oh, no, I was OK staying awake. I really only felt tired when I would start to do stuff, when I would do some biking or something like that. That's when I would start to feel a little bit tired, but staying up in class was fine. It was class. I don't think I was any more tired than the normal student or anything like that.

(Was your weakness to the point where you couldn't walk to class?)

No, no, no. I always rode my moped to class. I never walked. From the moped rack to the class I would walk, but not walking from my apartment to the class.

(Are you still in school, and if so, what is your schedule?)

I'm currently not taking any classes right now, and I have about a year left to finish up on my degree.

(Was it a hard decision to leave early?)

It was a hard decision just because of the type of people that I was around at Iowa. Being around Coach Ferentz and Coach Morgan and Coach Doyle, I had very good relationships with those guys. Then just the friendships I had made at the university, with all of my friends there and the teammates, that was a strong bond and that was one of the things that kept pulling me back was being around those types of people. But I think I made the right decision for myself and my family. Ending up in a place like Green Bay, I don't think there are any regrets about what I did.

(Did you feel like you had to be a first-round pick for it to be worth it?)

We looked at it as a if you have an opportunity like this to leave early and be considered as one of the top players, I think it was going to be the best idea. Opportunities like this don't come around every day. An injury or something crazy like a thyroid infection, stuff like that happens all of the time I guess. We couldn't take a risk doing it again, so it was the best thing for me to come out and live out my dream and play in the NFL and get drafted by a great team.

(Did Ferentz help you with what the NFL thought of you?)

Yeah, Coach Ferentz was definitely one of the key players in that, and also the NFL junior petition was the other thing I was going off. It was Coach Ferentz and the junior petition.

(Did you think at all about there not being football in 2011?)

That really wasn't even a concern on my mind really. No, that wasn't.

(Do you feel like your life has changed over the last week?)

Besides having news reporters in my house from Milwaukee and Green Bay, it's been pretty normal. It's been a pretty normal week. I've been home with my family, working out at my old high school, and kind of just doing what I normally do. It hasn't been too crazy. It's been kind of normal.

(I heard you were going to buy a truck. Did you get that yet?)

I haven't got that yet. I do want a truck, though. I definitely want one of those, but haven't bought it yet.

(You don't keep the moped then?)

The moped is back in Iowa City. I sold the moped unfortunately. That was a good moped. I'll tell you, it worked out well. Rain, snow, didn't matter, I still rode it.

(Why do you think this is a good fit? Why are you better off here than New York or wherever?)

I like the family atmosphere a smaller community brings. Playing at Iowa City, it was a smaller community. The people really cared about the football team, and I feel it's the exact same way here. The fans really care about this organization and the players. I heard from anywhere around town it's a quick five-minute drive to get over to the stadium to work out. You're not on busy highways being stuck in traffic for hours at a time. It's actually, everything's very convenient. My home town, Crystal Lake, isn't very huge either. It's a smaller town, so everything just relates very well back to where I kind of grew up and where I went to college. It's just an overall good fit.

(Have you been to Green Bay before?)

No. First time, first time.

(What do you think first trip around?)

I love it. I love it. It's exactly what I expected it to be. It's perfect.

(So what's your first day in town consisted of?)

Started out with getting fitted with shoes and gloves and the medical stuff. Kind of hanging out a little bit before this press conference and I think we have a dinner tonight and orientation. I think that's it for tonight. Am I right? I don't know. I think that's it.

(What do you do this weekend?)

I guess we have a lot of meetings going on. I really don't know the whole extent of the schedule. But we have lots of meetings and we're going to get out and practice a little bit from what I know. I'm excited about that, getting back on the football field and getting rid of the draft process and actually playing some football, which the whole thing is about anyways, playing football. So I'm excited about that, installing some of the offense, getting used to the terminology, getting used to the coaches that you're going to be with for quite a while and getting used to everything that's the Packers.

(What was the lowest weight you got to with the thyroid, what are you at now, and what's your optimal playing weight?)

I was down around 302, 303, and coming into the season, all during camp I was weighing around 315, 316. So I lost a significant amount of weight. I think 315 is probably my optimal playing weight. I feel comfortable playing there. Once I got back in the swing of things, that's what I played at and felt pretty good at that.

(Was it nice to get the draft process behind you, find your team and move past that stage?)

Yeah, absolutely. The whole thing, what's nerve-wracking about it is you don't know what team and what city you're going to end up in. It's not about where you're going to go, or what slot, it's about where you're going to end up. It's finally good to be past that stage and getting poked and prodded for short arms or my hands aren't big enough or this or that. It's good to be past that stage and actually play football. Like I said earlier, what this whole thing is about is your production on the field and how you play football. So yeah, I'm excited to be past that and to actually put on a helmet and get out there and play.

(Have you reached out to Clifton at all? Are you hoping he's willing to mentor you a little bit?)

I haven't spoken to Chad yet. I haven't seen him around either. I think I missed him today after his workout. I must have been in the medical stuff. But I hope that he can help me out a little bit, show me the ropes a little bit. Obviously he's been through a lot and he's played a lot of good football and he's still playing good football. I'm just hoping that I can learn as much as I can from him and garner all that experience that he can offer, because it's very valuable information. Anything I can learn from him is valuable.

(Have you watched him before, or when you're watching an NFL game are you just watching the game big-picture wise?)

No, I only watch the offensive line when I watch games. I've just kind of blocked out the rest of the game. I'll watch it on replay. But no, I've watched Chad before. I especially watched him towards the latter half of the season. I got some more down time training out in Arizona, and I could watch the games a little more on Sundays. Yeah, I was able to watch him and I think he's a phenomenal player. He does a good job in both the run and pass, and he's fun to watch. He's a good player, he's technically sound, and he's done a really good job.

{sportsad300}(What's your reaction when you do hear complaints about your short arms and small hands?)

Like I've been saying, I've never been in a situation in a football game where I have thought to myself after a play, gosh, I wish my arms were longer. I've never been in that situation, nor have I been in a situation where I was run-blocking a guy and my hands were too small to fit around his chest plate. I've never been in that situation. I think there's a lot of speculation that goes into that, the arm length. From what I know, Joe Thomas' arms I think were not as long as 33 and I think he's doing pretty well for himself, if I'm not correct. He's a pretty good player, and I'm sure there's other tackles in the NFL that are not blessed with having 36-inch arms, I suppose if that's a blessing or not. So I don't take too much into it. It's about what you do on the field. It's about how you play the game. If you get yourself in a good position, then having short arms won't affect you.

(Did teams ask you that in your interviews?)

I was never asked about that in the interviews, not once. That was one thing that never came up. I was waiting for it, though. I don't know what you want me to say. I can't get them any longer. Sorry.

(From the end of the college season and up to the combine today, were you at a workout facility and what were you doing?)

I was at Athletes Performance in Phoenix. That's where my agent sends all his guys out in the pre-draft, pre-combine process. I was out there and I was doing obviously workouts preparing for all the drills at the combine, the 5-10-5, the L, the 40, the vertical, all that stuff, preparing for that, a lot of explosive movement. But we were also getting stronger as well, doing a lot of heavy lifting on squat, bench, clean, all that kind of stuff, deadlift. And also position workouts, working with Tom Lovat, a former offensive line coach who has coached a lot of good players. That's who I was working with one-on-one out there was him, and I felt he did a really good job with me and I learned a lot from him. So while I was training for the combine and strength-wise I was also working a lot of offensive line drills every day.

(Did he ever scream at you? He was here for a long time.)

No. He never screamed at me. He'd ask me sometimes what are you doing, but never screamed. Never screamed.

(You played right away at Iowa. If for some reason all the guys here start all season, are you OK with a redshirt season in the NFL?)

Obviously my goal in the end is to get on the field and play. That's something that in my mind I want to do, I want to play football. From my freshman year in high school, I got moved up to sophomore, then from sophomore to varsity. And then not redshirting my freshman year and playing right away. I'm used to playing football. I'm used to being thrown in there and playing. But if the case is that I'm not playing, then I didn't earn it and the coaches thought I wasn't ready, and that's just the bottom line. I'm going to determine if I'm on the field or not. It's as simple as that. If they don't think I'm ready, then I won't be out there, and if they do, and something happens where if a guy goes down or if I earn my way into a spot, then so be it.

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