The Green Bay Packers will have David Bakhtiari at left tackle, defending the blindside of new starting quarterback Jordan Love. Any rumors of a possible trade involving the five-time All Pro are simply ridiculous. There is no way Green Bay will trade away arguably the best left tackle in the game, when healthy.
That “when healthy” has become a real big point of conversation, hasn’t it? After Bakhtiari tore his ACL in late 2020, he missed [essentially] the entire 2021 season and six games last season.
How much will Bakhtiari be able to play in 2023? The three-time Pro Bowler addressed that question himself last week.
How Much Can the Green Bay Packers Expect David Bakhtiari to Play in 2023?
As mentioned, Bakhtiari missed six games last season. He did not play to start the season and had to miss various games throughout in order to stay healthy longer. Will he be able to play more in 2023? In answer to this question, Bakhtiari said:
“I feel really good. Obviously I don’t want to jinx it or oversell anything. But I think it will show up in how much I play.”
While not putting an actual number of games, Bakhtiari’s answer indicates that he expects to play much more in 2023. That being said, there is one factor that bears mentioning when it comes to how many games he will play.
Artificial Turf Fields Are Not Kind to Knee Injuries
As many are aware, artificial turf fields are notoriously bad for injured/past injured knees. Last season, Bakhtiari missed the first two games of the season as he completed his rehab. Then, in Week Five, the Packers played the New York Giants in London on artificial turf.
Fans may recall that Bakhtiari only played 40% of the snaps in that game. The turf was not kind to his repaired knee.
He then missed Week Seven at the Washington Commanders to give his knee rest after playing for five weeks straight.
Now, here is where it gets telling: in Week Nine at Detroit, Bakhtiari only played 57% of the snaps. He then missed three straight games late in the season. The games were at Chicago, home against the Los Angeles Rams, and at the Miami Dolphins.
The Bears’ field is notoriously awful and the Miami Dolphins play on artificial turf. As the weather turned cold at Lambeau, he was held out as a precaution.
In other words, artificial turf was hard on Bakhtiari last year and limited how much he played.
In 2023, the Packers play SIX games on artificial turf: Week Two at Atlanta, Week Seven at Denver, Week 12 at Detroit, Week 14 at New York Giants, Week 16 at Carolina, and Week 17 at Minnesota.
The Packers will find out early if Bakhtiari’s knee will hold up on artificial turf. If it does not, the later stretch of the season that sees the team play on artificial turf four times in six games could be very difficult.