The Green Bay Packers are heading into Week Two after a dominant 38-20 win over the Chicago Bears to open their season. Aside from star wide receiver Christian Watson, the Packers were able to trot out all of their primary players. Unfortunately, that may not be the case when they travel to take on the Atlanta Falcons.
Quay Walker sustained a concussion when he scored a touchdown after picking off Justin Fields last week. While he was able to be a limited participant in practice this week, he remains in concussion protocol.
Aaron Jones, who was Green Bay’s most important offensive weapon, suffered a hamstring injury early in the fourth quarter on a long touchdown catch and run. He was a non-participant in practice for most of the week, but did participate in a limited fashion on Friday. He is questionable for Sunday.
Christian Watson, who missed Week One with a hamstring injury, is also questionable for the Falcons’ game.
One player that is listed as questionable, despite not suffering a new injury, is left tackle David Bakhtiari. Indeed, it will not be a surprise if he does not play on Sunday for a very profound reason.
Green Bay Packers Left Tackle David Bakhtiari May Miss the Atlanta Falcons Game
Mercedes Benz Stadium, where the Falcons play, is a domed stadium with artificial turf. Due to Bakhtiari’s surgically repaired ACL, the Packers may decide to not risk another injury and keep him off the field.
Former Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers infamously tore his Achilles on the fourth snap of his season with the New York Jets. MetLife Stadium, too, has artificial turf and many current and former players spoke out afterwards, claiming the injury would not have happened on a field composed of real grass.
Bakhtiari, of course, was one of the most vocal of these players. He has long been calling out the NFL for using artificial turf and Rodgers’ injury just poured gasoline on his fire. He, along with many others, pointed out that the NFL is replacing the artificial turf with real grass in stadiums for soccer matches held in their stadiums.
While the Packers are deep at the tackle position, Bakhtiari is by far their best option at left tackle. He is also their highest paid player. It may be the most responsible course of action to keep him inactive for Week Two.
Who Will Play Left Tackle for the Green Bay Packers in David Bakhtiari Doesn’t Play?
As mentioned, the Packers have a great deal of depth at the tackle position. If Bakhtiari does not play, they have a variety of quality options.
Elgton Jenkins, of course, filled in at left tackle before. However, he is the starting left guard and shifting him over would mean starting one of the team’s backup guards, who are not as adept as their backup tackles. In order to keep the best five available on the field, Jenkins should stay at left guard.
Zach Tom is the starting right tackle, but did do well in the snaps he played at left tackle last year. However, he is the long-term right tackle and should remain their if at all possible.
That leaves two options: Yosh Nijman and Rasheed Walker. Nijman played left tackle when both Bakhtiari and Jenkins had torn ACL, but has fallen down the depth chart for not “stepping up,” as offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich indicated.
Walker, on the other hand, has shot up the depth chart and played most of the snaps at left tackle during the preseason. Indeed, he may be the future at left tackle and fans could get a glimpse of that future in any game Bakhtiari does not play.
What Other Games This Year Do the Green Bay Packers Play on Turf?
Aside from the Atlanta Falcons, the Packers will visit the following teams who all play on turf:
- Detroit Lions (Week 12)
- New York Giants (Week 14)
- Carolina Panthers (Week 16)
- Minnesota Vikings (Week 17)