Bryan Bulaga‘s return from injured reserves does not appear likely to take place in the near future. The veteran right tackle underwent core muscle surgery Tuesday, the Chargers announced.
Bulaga has been on IR since Week 2. He has played 45 snaps this season, his second with the Chargers. The 12th-year lineman’s timetable is still being determined. This is a bit of a blow to a Chargers team that just lost starting guard Oday Aboushi for the season with a torn ACL.
Groin and back injuries dogged Bulaga during training camp, and he aggravated his back issue in the Bolts’ opener. This moved former UDFA Storm Norton into the starting lineup. Norton has played every snap since replacing Bulaga, who signed a three-year, $30MM deal to fortify the Chargers’ right tackle spot in 2020.
Pro Football Focus rates Norton outside the top 60 among tackles this season, though the Bolts have certainly not felt the effects of Bulaga’s absence much. They are 4-1 behind MVP-candidate quarterback Justin Herbert, who played without multiple starting O-linemen — including Bulaga — several times as a rookie.
The longtime Packers right tackle missed six games last season and has seen injuries wipe out a full season (2013) and force him to miss more than six games twice (in 2012 and ’17). While he has still managed to secure two lucrative free agency deals, the first a Packers re-up in 2015, the 32-year-old blocker has trended in the wrong direction during his Los Angeles stay.