GREEN BAY, Wis. – For the first time since suffering a torn ACL on New Year’s Eve, Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari will practice this week.
“I would anticipate David being out there for practice but time will tell whether or not we put him in a position to suit up for us” against Washington on Sunday, coach Matt LaFleur said on Monday, a day after a 24-14 victory over the Chicago Bears.
Bakhtiari spent training camp and the first six weeks of the regular season on the physically unable to perform list. Once Bakhtiari hits the practice field, a three-week window will be cracked open. At the end of those 21 days, Bakhtiari must be added to the 53-man roster or placed of season-ending injured reserve.
The Packers might have gone to the Super Bowl had Bakhtiari not injured his left knee before the regular-season finale against Chicago. Playing one of the most important positions in football, Bakhtiari was having a brilliant year. He earned All-Pro honors for the fifth consecutive season.
In November, he signed a contract extension that made him (briefly) the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history.
Bakhtiari has been on the practice field most days going through workouts to get himself ready for the next step of his comeback. That next step figures to come on Wednesday.
In June, Bakhtiari called his absence “very humbling.”
“The biggest thing that jumps out for me is don’t take things for granted,” he said. “I really appreciate just walking. I appreciate being able to jog again. I appreciate being able to walk up and down stairs by myself. It was very humbling. It can get very dark for individuals who’ve experienced it. I am a very prideful individual and, for me, asking someone to help me to the bathroom, that weighed on me. But through these humbling experiences, you find a way. For me, it helped me understand to not take things for granted and really appreciate even the littlest of things.”
With Elgton Jenkins and Yosh Nijman playing left tackle, the Packers have won five consecutive games.
If Bakhtiari does not play this week, he might not play the following week, either, with the Packers having a short week before a Thursday night game at Arizona.
LaFleur was asked about several players’ injuries.
Cornerback Jaire Alexander: Surgery “can’t 100 percent” be ruled out but his injured shoulder is “progressing nicely” through rest and rehab.
Cornerback Kevin King: Probably won’t need to go on injured reserve with his shoulder injury and is “day to day.” He was out at Chicago.
Center Josh Myers: After missing last week with an injured finger, Myers suffered a knee injury on the opening series vs. Chicago. LaFleur said Myers “most likely” would miss a few games. In Myers’ place, Lucas Patrick earned the best grade among the offensive linemen vs. Chicago, LaFleur said.
Receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling: LaFleur wasn’t certain whether Valdes-Scantling would be designated to return from injured reserve this week following the hamstring injury that kept him out the past three weeks.
Outside linebacker Preston Smith: Smith dropped out after eight snaps with an oblique injury. Since entering the league in 2015, he has played all 102 career games. “I know he’s definitely motivated to want to play but we want to make sure that he’s not going to put himself at further risk.”