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Friday, February 25, 2011
Combine'11: Bryan Bulaga's future

By Kevin Seifert

INDIANAPOLIS -- Friday brought us the rarely-seen glib side of Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson, who said he saw through most of the congratulations he has received from contemporaries here at the scouting combine for winning Super Bowl XLV.

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"I used to do the same thing and I didn't mean it," Thompson said. "It was just being nice. They're being nice, and that's just the way we do it. Everyone is very competitive in this league, and I'm sure we've got 31 teams that are wanting a piece of us."

I'll have more later on the Packers' quest to stay head of the league; coach Mike McCarthy's media availability is set for Friday afternoon. For now, I want to circle back on a question a number of you have posed over the past few weeks: Where do the Packers envision their 2010 first-round draft choice playing in 2011 and beyond?

Bryan Bulaga was drafted as a left tackle and saw some early-season action at the position before replacing injured right tackle Mark Tauscher in Week 5. Bulaga was a member of our 2010 all-NFC North team. And a bit more significantly, Thompson said Bulaga was "one of those guys who, if we didn't have him, we probably wouldn't have won this thing." Thompson strongly implied the Packers will maintain the status quo at least in 2011.

Under that scenario, Chad Clifton would return as the starting left tackle.

"We thought [Bulaga] played very well," Thompson said. "I thought [Clifton] had a good year at left tackle. You never know. Our offensive line, sometimes they're here one day and the next day they're somewhere else, which is exactly what happened to Bryan."

Asked if he thought Bulaga's long-term position was still left tackle, Thompson paused and said: "It could be. But he's playing fine where he's at." Thompson added that the Packers "are certainly kind of planning on" Clifton playing left tackle in 2011.

Thompson doesn't often show his personnel cards, but what I took from the exchange is he won't feel compelled to move Bulaga if he don't have to. It's possible Bulaga could shift in future seasons, but to me, every year that passes by with Bulaga at right tackle lessens the possibility that he will one day be moved to the left side.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's true that finding left tackles is more difficult than right tackles, but paramount is finding players who perform well -- somewhere. The Packers know Bulaga can be a long-term answer at right tackle. Whenever Clifton retires, they'll have a decision to make. But there's no reason to make it now.