GREEN BAY, Wis. – Finally, there’s some clarity on David Bakhtiari’s stalled comeback.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Bakhtiari recently had arthroscopic surgery to “clean up” his left knee. That’s the knee that was reconstructed following the ACL injury sustained at practice on New Year’s Eve.
The hope is Bakhtiari will return for the stretch run. As coach Matt LaFleur said on Monday, Bakhtiari won’t practice this week. With Elgton Jenkins suffering a torn ACL on Sunday at Minnesota, Yosh Nijman will get the start on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams. Then, the Packers will get their long-awaited bye.
After that, it’s the five-game finishing stretch that will start with a home game against the Chicago Bears on Dec. 12. It would seem unlikely Bakhtiari would play following just one week of practice, though. The Packers will play at Baltimore on Dec. 19, which would give him two weeks of practice, anagainst Cleveland on Christmas following a third week of practice. If that’s the case, his official return would come one year and one day since the injury.
“It’s good having him back. He’s a stud. He’s a future Hall of Famer,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said after practice.
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Starting with that practice, he participated in every practice until Nov. 12, the Friday before the Week 10 game against Seattle. He was inactive for the Seahawks game, didn’t practice last week and was inactive for Sunday at Minnesota.
LaFleur had refused to get into any details of why Bakhtiari had stopped practicing.
“I’m not going to get into it guys,” he said on Thursday. “You can ask a million different ways. I’m just going to tell you the same thing over and over. It’s day to day. It’s part of the process. He’s coming off a major injury. He’s doing everything in his power to get back as quickly as possible, and that’s just where we are right now.”
While blocking premier pass rushers has been relatively easy for the five-time All-Pro, clearing the final hurdles from a major injury have proven much more difficult. A source said Bakhtiari is frustrated but appreciates the team’s careful approach.
“Him being out there from what I’ve seen of him in practice so far, there’s flashes where he looks great,” offensive line coach Adam Stenavich said on Nov. 17. “It’s just going to be a matter of can he sustain that for a game? That’s going to be the hardest thing because he didn’t have camp, he didn’t have anything built up. Practices are limited right now. So, that’s going to be his biggest challenge is getting to a place where he can sustain that performance for an entire game. That’s part of what we evaluate right now and that’s probably going to be probably the biggest question.”
Nijman, who replaced an injured Jenkins earlier this season and again for the fourth quarter on Sunday, will make his fourth professional start vs. the powerful Rams.