The Packers face significant questions along their offensive line, not as a result of personnel or performance, but due to injuries. Both David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins continue to recover from ACL tears, which will remain an important storyline into the summer.
Bakhtiari suffered the injury in practice last December, which dealt a significant blow to the team’s playoff run. There was optimism that he would be able to return to full health at some point in the 2021 campaign, but things didn’t go according to plan. He wasn’t activated until November, and only saw the field in Week 18. He was deactivated the following week, meaning he missed a second straight postseason.
That has, understandably, left the Packers cautious in their handling of the 30-year-old. The team made it clear recently that Bakhtiari wouldn’t participate in OTAs or minicamp, aiming instead for a return to action by training camp in late July.
“Time will tell,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said, via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, regarding the two-time All-Pro’s summertime availability. “We fully anticipate him being ready to go, but we did last year, as well… But we feel good about the work that he’s put in and where he’s at.”
Assuming Bakhtiari is able to regain his left tackle spot, that would leave Jenkins in need of a new position for 2022. He filled in at the blindside before suffering his own torn ACL in November, which leaves his Week 1 availability in doubt. Whenever he is able to return, the Pro Bowler could return to left guard, where he began his career. However, as Demovsky notes, Jenkins could move to right tackle as a replacement for Billy Turner.
With their top two o-linemen on the way to full health, the unit is in line to perform at a higher level in 2022 than it did last year. While it remains to be seen, of course, if Bakhtiari and Jenkins will regain their high-end form upon return, there is cause for optimism for two of the team’s most important offensive contributors.