GREEN BAY, Wis. – Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari returned to practice on Wednesday, a good sign that the five-time All-Pro will be in the starting lineup for Saturday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the 49ers.
As always, coach Matt LaFleur inserted the day-to-day caveat.
“We’ll just take it one day at a time, just see how he responds to the load that he gets at practice,” LaFleur said before practice. “Certainly, he played at a really high level in his limited snaps vs. Detroit. I was really impressed with his ability to go out there. But, ultimately, we’ll consult with him and our medical people and make the best decision for us.”
Officially, Bakhtiari was limited participation.
In San Francisco, Nick Bosa, who finished fourth in the NFL with 15.5 sacks and added four forced fumbles, did not practice while reporters were present but was limited participation. After not practicing on Tuesday, that’s an obvious sign that the Pro Bowler could be good to go, even on a short week. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw and running back Elijah Mitchell went from limited on Tuesday to full participation on Wednesday.
“He’s come along well, going through the protocol there,” defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans said of Bosa before Wednesday's practice. “Hopefully, he’ll be fine by the end of the week. We definitely need him out there.”
For Green Bay, receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (back) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (rest) were the only players to not practice. Valdes-Scantling missed most of the Detroit game with a back injury and was limited participation on Tuesday.
The group of five key players who have been sidelined by injuries for extended periods practiced again. That includes right tackle Billy Turner, who missed the last four games with a knee injury, as full participation for a second consecutive day, and cornerback Jaire Alexander, who hasn’t played since Week 4 due to a shoulder injury, as limited participation again.
Three standouts who are on injured reserve, receiver Randall Cobb (core) and outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith (back) and Whitney Mercilus (bicep), practiced, as well. Cobb almost certainly will play, and Smith and Mercilus might, too.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry said the three bye-week practices were important for Alexander and Smith. While there’s no substitute for game reps, they practiced in pads last Thursday and again on Wednesday.
“We’ve put them in as many different situations as possible to really feel if they can go,” Barry said after Wednesday’s practice. “I want them to stack blocks. We had a great, spirited individual period today and yesterday, which is big. Our coaches do a great job of really stressing our players with all the different techniques that they have to play in individual. I think today they stacked another block toward playing, no doubt about it.”
Asked about potential game reps for Alexander and Smith, an All-Pro and Pro Bowler, respectively, last year, LaFleur said:
“I think it’s going to be you see how a guy is feeling in game if we get to that point. But you don’t want to just load them up and expect them to go out there and expect them to play 60 snaps. I think that’s a little unrealistic at this point. But we’ll see where they’re at and hopefully they can give us some contributions. Obviously, the players definitely stand out. I mean, shoot, Jaire had as big an impact in that first time we played San Francisco as anybody on the field. So, to get those two players back would be a huge boost for our defense.”
Packers Injury Report
DNP: TE Marcedes Lewis (rest), WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (back).
Limited: CB Jaire Alexander (shoulder), LT David Bakhtiari (knee).
Full: ILB De’Vondre Campbell (elbow), RB Aaron Jones (knee), QB Aaron Rodgers (toe), RT Billy Turner (knee).
49ers Injury Report
Limited: DE Nick Bosa (concussion), LB Marcell Harris (Achilles), CB Ambry Thomas (knee), DT Jordan Willis (ankle).
Full: LB Azeez Al-Shaair (knee), QB Jimmy Garoppolo (thumb, shoulder), LB Dre Greenlaw (groin), S Talanoa Hufanga (knee), RB Elijah Mitchell (knee), LB Fred Warner (ankle).