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Packers-Seahawks protection issues

Brown uncertain; Bulaga likely back for Pack

When the Packers and Seahawks square off Sunday evening, it will be a matchup of the 5th- and 8th-best pass rushes of the eight teams still playing in the postseason. With Friday practices yet to occur, it looks like Green Bay will be at full strength. Seattle is less certain.

Bryan Bulaga suffered a concussion in Week 17, but he's been practicing fully this week for Green Bay. Looks promising for him clearing the protocol and being available in front of Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers this year was sacked 36 times, one of his lower 16-game totals (last year he was sacked 49 times, so nearly a sack per game more). He's facing one of the league's worst pass rushes during the regular season, but Seattle did record 7 sacks at Philadelphia last week -- 6 of those against creaky Josh McCown, of course.

Duane Brown's availability is far less certain. Listed on the injury report with a knee injury, Brown -- who sat out the last two games of the regular season, and the game at Philadelphia -- didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday. He apparently will try to play in this elimination game, but his status can't be taken for granted.

Brown missed four games during the season, and Wilson was sacked 10 times in those games -- actually fewer than he was sacked in the 12 games Brown played (38 times), for what it's worth. So the offense won't necessarily collapse without him in there. George Fant will fill that spot. But they'd be better off with Brown.

During the season, the 48 sacks allowed by Seattle were more than all but eight teams. Some of that is Wilson holding the ball and extending plays. But Seattle's protection looks worse when considering hits on the quarterback. They allowed 111 hits, and that's more than all but three teams: Miami, Atlanta and the Giants. Half of the remaining playoff teams (three of the four bye teams) were among the best in the league at allowing fewer hits on their quarterback. Those remaining teams are in bold.

QUARTERBACK HITS, 2019
Team Sacks Hits
Miami58147
Atlanta50135
N.Y. Giants 43119
Seattle 48111
N.Y. Jets 52106
Tampa Bay47106
Carolina58101
Philadelphia 37100
Tennessee5697
Washington5097
Indianapolis3295
Houston4993
L.A. Chargers 3492
Detroit4392
New England2889
Dallas2387
Buffalo4086
Chicago4586
Green Bay3685
Denver4184
Jacksonville4284
Cincinnati4883
L.A. Rams 2279
Pittsburgh3278
San Francisco3673
Kansas City2570
Arizona5069
Minnesota2868
Cleveland4166
Baltimore2859
New Orleans2558
Oakland2952

Bulaga will likely clear the protocol and be available Sunday. Brown, we'll see what today's final injury report says. Most likely, Rodgers will be operating in a cleaner pocket this week than Wilson.

--Andy Richardson

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