Packers Left Tackle David Bakhtiari Makes Long-Awaited Return to Field Following Knee Injury

by Nick Geddes

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers welcomed back one of his favorites teammates to practice on Sunday. No, it wasn’t star receiver Davante Adams – who departed this offseason to Las Vegas – but rather David Bakhtiari, his All-Pro protector on the offensive line.

Bakhtiari was activated off the physically unable to perform list and promptly participated in individual drills, per Bakhtiari tore his ACL in practice on Dec. 31, 2020, and suffered setbacks while trying to return last season. He suited up in Week 18, but played just 27 snaps. He was unable to play in Green Bay’s Divisional Round loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

He’s back at practice, although head coach Matt LaFleur isn’t ready to make a decision on his availability for Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings.

“We’re going to take it a day at a time,” LaFleur said. “There’s no thought as far as Week 1 is concerned right now. We just want to see how he responds. And when he’s ready, he’s ready.”

Packers Continue to Get Healthier With Addition of David Bakhtiari

David Bakhtiari, 30, is one of the best left tackles in the NFL when healthy. Prior to his injury, he was named to three Pro Bowls and earned All-Pro selections in 2018 and 2020. He inked a four-year, $92 million extension a month-and-a-half before the ACL tear. He trails only the 49ers’ Trent Williams as the highest-paid offensive lineman in football.

He’s the latest notable Packer to return ahead of the season. Fellow offensive line standout Elgton Jenkins returned to practice last Sunday. Tight end Robert Tonyan and rookie wideout Christian Watson were both cleared as well.

Having not played much football in nearly two years, Bakhtiari was understandably elated to be back in the fold at practice.

“I was extremely grateful and had my own personal moments the first time I came back because it was awesome,” Bakhtiari said after practice. “It’s just tough when it gets taken from you ’cause it’s not by your choice. That was something that I had a hard time giving up, basically my knee saying no. This time now, I realize that I cannot control as much as I want to.

“I like to be in control of my destiny and it’s just more like, ‘Hey, what are you feeling like today, knee? How are you doing? You holding up well? Cool, we’re in this together, man.'”