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Game Notes: Bulaga Sees Extended Action

Veteran left tackle Chad Clifton only practiced once this week leading into Sunday’s game because of knee soreness, and the injury affected him enough against Buffalo that he came out for good with just under six minutes remaining in the first half.


After the first four offensive possessions, rookie tackle Bryan Bulaga took over for Clifton with the first line, and remained in that spot for the rest of the afternoon.

"I felt that he just didn't look like he was fully recovered, so I thought it was important to get Bryan in there," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "(Clifton) didn't look good today. He didn't look like he was healthy. He struggled last week through the Philadelphia game so that's why Bryan played today. We'll assess it in the morning and set our plan for next week."

Bulaga was part of a line that didn't allow a sack of quarterback Aaron Rodgers all afternoon after the Packers gave up three at Philadelphia last Sunday. The offense scored on its first three possessions in the second half as the Packers pulled away to win 34-7 after leading 13-7 at the break.

"Bulaga from Day 1 has fit in very well personality-wise," Rodgers said. "I like his work ethic and have a lot of confidence when he is in the game. Other than the jump on a hard count, I think he did a nice job for us."

Bulaga seemed to acquit himself fairly well in his first offensive action, with his lone noticeable mistake being the false-start penalty early in the fourth quarter.

"We'll see on the tape tomorrow," Bulaga said. "We'll see how it goes tomorrow. I felt comfortable and had fun and we got a big win. You've got to be happy about it.

"Anytime you can go out there and get some time and get your feet wet, you can't complain about it."

Bulaga said he was only told that he was going in, not why Clifton was coming out, and admitted to having some jitters early on.  

"You will always be a little bit nervous," Bulaga said. "Once you get the first couple of plays out of the way, then you are going and you get in the groove of things and then you are just playing. Even in the preseason, a little nervous but anxious and excited."

The Packers rushed for 91 yards on 27 carries (3.4 avg.) in their first game without back-to-back 1,200-yard rusher Ryan Grant, who sustained a season-ending ankle injury in the season opener last Sunday in Philadelphia.

The reps were split fairly evenly between Brandon Jackson, who picked up 29 yards on 11 carries, and John Kuhn, who recorded career highs in both attempts (nine) and rushing yards (36). Rookie Dimitri Nance, who was signed earlier this week off of Atlanta's practice squad, picked up 6 yards on his two carries.

"I thought it was OK," McCarthy said of the running game. "Really, I'm curious to go upstairs and watch the film. I want to see the run-blocking unit. I want to see if we were winning on second reaction. It looked like they pressed us out a few times, particularly in their 3-4 defense. They played sub to our one-back formations, both with the three tight ends and one wide receiver. I don't think I've ever seen that.

"I thought that our players handled those adjustments and those types of things well. We need to look at it. But it's a little difficult when you use running back by committee. It's a little harder for those guys to get into a flow and I understand that. We'll continue to go that way and try to spread that ball around with the rush attempts."

Burnett INTAfter nearly picking off Eagles quarterback Michael Vick in his first NFL start, rookie safety Morgan Burnett got on the board with his first career interception on Sunday.

With the Packers leading 27-7 early in the fourth quarter, Burnett wrestled away a pass from Trent Edwards to wide receiver Roscoe Parrish in the flat, giving Green Bay the ball at its own 48. The Packers scored four plays later on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to James Jones.

"I feel as each week and each practice goes on, I am starting to gain a little more confidence and starting to be a little more aggressive and make plays on the ball," Burnett said.

"I just saw Parrish run a little hitch route and that was in my zone area, so I was just looking to run up and just make a good open-field tackle for a no-gainer. Once I hit him, I ended up hitting him and the ball rolled into my arms."

Needs some workRodgers, who led all NFL quarterbacks with five rushing touchdowns in 2009, got into the end zone on Sunday in the third quarter with a 9-yard score but also received some good-natured ribbing from his teammates for his post-touchdown jump into the stands.

"The guys were giving me a hard time on the sidelines, but I told them, 'Look, I was tired,'" Rodgers said. "That is a long way to run. My calves were cramping and that wall is pretty high.

"Back in '05, the wall was a little bit shorter in the middle. Mark Tauscher caught a touchdown pass and eventually got it called back because of a holding call, but that is kind of where he aimed for. I think they need to bring back just a section for guys that are not as athletic and maybe we can jump in that area."

Good startThe seven points allowed by Green Bay on Sunday were the fewest given up by the Packers in a home opener since a 30-6 win over Detroit at Lambeau Field on Sept. 9, 2001. The 27-point margin of victory was the most in a home opener since a 36-6 victory over the Los Angeles Rams at Milwaukee County Stadium on Sept. 5, 1993.

The Packers have now won four straight home openers under McCarthy, who joins Curly Lambeau as the only coaches in team history to win four or more consecutive home openers. Lambeau accomplished the feat three times (1923-27, 1929-32, 1938-41).

Injury/participation updateLinebacker Brad Jones and nose tackle B.J. Raji sustained knee injuries, but both players returned. McCarthy said safety Nick Collins sustained a hip flexor injury late in the game.

Fullback Korey Hall (hip) was inactive, with second-year fullback Quinn Johnson getting his first NFL start.

Rookie defensive end Mike Neal (side/rib) was inactive for the second straight game. With Neal sidelined, second-year man Jarius Wynn, who re-signed with the team earlier in the week, and rookie C.J. Wilson, both were active.

The other inactive players were cornerback Brandon Underwood, linebacker Desmond Bishop, guard Nick McDonald, tackle/guard T.J. Lang, guard/tackle Marshall Newhouse and tight end Andrew Quarless.

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