GREEN BAY, Wis. – Exactly 153 days ago, Green Bay Packers All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari suffered a torn ACL at a New Year’s Eve practice before the Week 17 game vs. Chicago. The injury ended his season and perhaps ruined the team’s Super Bowl chances.
On a glorious Wednesday at Clarke Hinkle Field, Bakhtiari went through a rehab workout alongside tight end Josiah Deguara, who suffered a torn ACL of his own almost three months earlier.
“Anytime you have a veteran like that out there at practice, I think it just kind of lifts everybody up,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “He’s really working hard. He’s in excellent shape. We’re just going to take it one day at a time and I think he’s a little bit ahead of schedule. Then again, there’s a long way until the start of the season and we’ll see where he’s at when it comes to that time.”
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The Packers are expected to hold their first practice of training camp on July 31. That’s 59 days from now. They will kick off the 2021 NFL season at the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 12. That’s 102 days from now.
To be sure, the Packers would love to have him available for the opening game. The first-team All-Pro is the best offensive tackle in the NFL and arguably the best offensive lineman in the sport. However, there are more important things than Week 1 – including another run at the Super Bowl. Moreover, with an average salary of $23 million per season, he trails only San Francisco’s Trent Williams ($23,010,000) among offensive linemen. The Packers need Bakhtiari for the long haul.
So, it will be a group decision when it comes time to determine whether Bakhtiari is ready to be turned loose.
“There’s a lot of people that are involved in that decision and David’s certainly one of them,” LaFleur said. “And I know that he’s a guy that loves to push himself and I know he’s champing at the bit to be out there with his teammates but, ultimately, sometimes you’ve got to protect these guys from themselves. I think that’s just the mentality that he has. That’s why he is the player that he is today. And so, we’ll be smart about it. We’re going to make sure that he’s ready, that he feels comfortable, that our training staff feels comfortable with where he’s at before we make any decisions like that.”