David Bakhtiari has not played a full game since his New Year’s Eve 2020 ACL tear. The All-Pro Packers left tackle has undergone three knee surgeries since that setback, with a separate knee issue necessitating the third procedure. While it is taken a long time, the 10th-year pro expects to be back in Week 1 against the Vikings.
The Packers took Bakhtiari off their active/PUP list late in training camp, opening the door to a September return. Bakhtiari went through 11-on-11 drills Monday and indicated he has been doing so for “several” practices now, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes.
“I can get through the season,” Bakhtiari said. “It’s going to be fine. You have to just manage while playing. I’m just getting back in the swing of things. So, I mean, I think there’s normal rust and then new normal with three surgeries, so just kind of working that out and figuring out what my routine is.”
The 30-year-old blocker played all of 27 snaps last season — during a meaningless Week 18 game in Detroit — but was not healthy enough to suit up for Green Bay’s divisional-round game. The Packers having their highly paid tackle back in place would obviously be a tremendous boost, considering they played without both their Pro Bowl O-linemen for much of last season.
Elgton Jenkins‘ status is not known, per Demovsky, who reiterates the versatile performer is expected to be Green Bay’s right tackle this season. Once he is healthy, that is. Jenkins suffered a torn ACL on Nov. 21, 2021. It would not surprise if the Packers gave the contract-year blocker, who was a Pro Bowler while at left guard in 2020 before going down while filling in for Bakhtiari at left tackle last season, more time to recover. Jenkins might be ahead of schedule, with a stay on the reserve/PUP list once rumored. But it is uncertain if he will start in Minnesota.
This duo’s statuses were a constant talking point for the three-time reigning NFC North champions this offseason. Bakhtiari is a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro. His absence in the 2020 NFC championship game cost the Packers dearly, though Matt LaFleur‘s team won 13 games without him last year. Bakhtiari and Jenkins suiting up together for the first time since Week 16 of the 2020 season would end this lengthy chapter of O-line uncertainty and help the Packers as they transition to a period of pass-catcher uncertainty.