One of the longest injury recoveries in recent Packers history may finally be nearing its end. David Bakhtiari, Green Bay’s star left tackle, reportedly told ESPN that he expects to play in the team’s Week 1 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.
Bakhtiari initially tore his ACL in December 2020. He worked back to take snaps in Green Bay’s final regular season game in 2021. Unfortunately, Bakhtiari was unable to play in the 2021 playoffs. After undergoing a third surgery on his knee in the offseason, Bakhtiari did not take team reps in training camp – though he was activated from PUP.
In a long-awaited step towards game readiness, Bakhtiari was able to take snaps in team periods this week. Bakhtiari’s interview with ESPN took place later the same day, seemingly confirming the positive trajectory of his recovery.
What Is Bakhtiari’s Long-Term Status?
In the same interview, Bakhtiari claimed that he would be able to play the entire season. If that turns out to be the case, then Green Bay’s Super Bowl hopes could gain a huge boost. It could be argued that Green Bay’s premature exits in the 2020 and 2021 playoffs were largely due to problems at the tackle position. Having an elite left tackle back to bolster a young offensive line could be just what the Packers need.
If Bakhtiari does return at left tackle this week, there are still questions about the offensive line. It is unclear who Green Bay will play at right tackle. Backup left tackle Yosh Njiman is an option, as are young versatile lineman Royce Newman and Zach Tom. Elgton Jenkins will likely return at some point to provide Green Bay with another option on the offensive line.
Regardless of how the line shakes out, Bakhtiari’s return vastly improves the unit. He could prove critical to Green Bay’s high aspirations in 2022.
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