T.J. Lang welcomes a midseason change in position on the offensive line.
The Packers returned from their bye week Monday, and their abbreviated practice marked the start of having to go in a new direction after enjoying stability on the line since the start of the season.
The team placed right tackle Bryan Bulaga on injured reserve, a little more than a week after he suffered what has been reported as a dislocated hip in the Packers' pre-bye win over Arizona on Nov. 4.
Although Bulaga probably won't need surgery and there had been some discussion among team officials to give him a chance to return before the end of the season, the decision was made to rule him out the rest of the way.
"The more people we talked to, we felt it was best to put him on IR," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "His long-term health is always at the forefront of these decisions."
Bulaga is the fifth Green Bay starter to land on the IR list this season. Running back Cedric Benson is the only of those who may still play in the remaining weeks since he's in the new "designated for return" category after suffering a foot injury in Week 5.
The Packers (6-3), who trail NFC North leader Chicago by only a game, return to game action Sunday at the division rival Detroit Lions.
Besides losing Bulaga, Green Bay still is without All-Pro defensive back Charles Woodson (broken collarbone) and Pro Bowl receiver Greg Jennings (surgery for abdominal tear). The Packers also might not have All-Pro outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who has a team-high nine sacks, available for Sunday's game after he suffered a hamstring injury in the last game.
Green Bay will compensate for the loss of Bulaga by moving the versatile T.J. Lang from left guard to right tackle and plugging in Evan Dietrich-Smith at left guard. The Packers resorted to those changes after Bulaga left in the second quarter of the game against the Cardinals.
Lang, a fourth-year pro, has previous starting experience at right tackle as an injury fill-in.
"It was difficult my first couple years in the league when I was forced to do it," Lang said Monday. "Now, I think I have enough experience that when things do happen like that you have to be ready for it, adjust quick and move on.
"The biggest thing (in moving from guard to tackle) is switching your feet up, getting your technique right, and that just comes with time. I'm looking forward to having the whole week practicing out there and getting better at that technical stuff."
McCarthy said the coaches "have a lot of confidence" in Lang at right tackle.
"I think with a full week of work he'll be ready to go," McCarthy said. "He's a pro. He'll dive into the preparation part of it, particularly who he's playing against and the things that we're asking him to do. T.J. won't keep us out of anything as far as the way we game-planned (for the Lions) here in the last couple days."
The Packers filled Bulaga's spot on the 53-man roster by re-signing outside linebacker Vic So'oto.
The second-year player played the entire 2011 season with Green Bay as an undrafted rookie. The Packers cut So'oto in early September this year after he suffered an ankle injury in the preseason that landed him on IR. He later signed with the Oakland Raiders and played four games before they released him last week.