GREEN BAY, Wis. – The plan for Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari is clear-cut.
“We’re going to basically go out there and find the best plan to put David out there as much as possible,” offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich said on Thursday.
Turning the plan into reality is what lacks clarity.
Before Wednesday’s practice, coach Matt LaFleur said Bakhtiari wouldn’t practice. He wound up practicing. Bakhtiari didn’t practice on Thursday. Presumably, he’ll work on Friday and play “as much as possible” – whatever that means from a snaps perspective – on Sunday against the New England Patriots.
Getting his first game action in 37 weeks, Bakhtiari played 35 snaps in last week’s victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 17 pass-protecting snaps, his man never laid a finger on Aaron Rodgers. In 18 run-blocking snaps, the Packers averaged 3.0 yards per carry with Bakhtiari in the game, which isn’t great, but it was 2.0 yards per carry when not in the game.
“David’s a pro. He’s a perfectionist. Just ask him, he’ll tell you,” offensive line coach Luke Butkus said. “There’s a reason why he’s one of the best left tackles in this league. Of course, he wants to be perfect every play. Is he going to be? No. There are things that he wants to clean up that we want him to clean up but it’s a great start to get better and be out there and play full speed. So, very encouraging and very excited.”
Now, the next step is for Bakhtiari to play in back-to-back games. Assuming he’s in the lineup to face the Patriots, it will be another huge step forward in his career. Remember, more than a year after tearing his ACL at practice on New Year’s Eve 2020, Bakhtiari returned to action in the 2021 finale at Detroit on Jan. 9, 2022. Two weeks later, he practiced only once and was inactive for the playoff loss to San Francisco.
So, Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay was a big deal. Playing again – and playing even better – would be a big deal, too.
The Packers could stick with last week’s series-by-series rotation with Yosh Nijman. Or, they could turn Bakhtiari loose and see how long he can play quality football on what’s forecast to be a 62-degree day.
“I thought he did a really good job,” Stenavich said. “He hadn’t really been able to consistently go out there and practice and stuff, so it was great to get him out there. I thought he did a really good job just going out there and playing hard and putting good stuff on film.”