The franchise left tackle hasn’t practiced in OTAs, but according to his head coach that was the plan all along.
David Bakhtiari faced plenty of trials and tribulations in his attempt to return to the field in 2021 suffering a torn ACL late in the 2020 season. The Green Bay Packers’ All-Pro left tackle played in just one game last season, the regular season finale, before being shut down and held out of the team’s playoff game.
Bakhtiari detailed the challenges he dealt with in an interview with CheeseheadTV earlier this year, but through one week of OTAs, he has yet to participate in practice. This has understandably been a concerning development to Packers fans hoping to see him ready to return, but it’s not a worry for head coach Matt LaFleur.
Instead, LaFleur told the media on Tuesday that this was the franchise’s intended approach throughout the offseason.
“Our plan all along was to hold him (out of practice) from this time of the year and make sure he continues to get stronger,” LaFleur told the media, saying that the team’s plan is to have him 100% in time for the start of training camp.
When asked if Bakhtiari is close to returning, LaFleur said “Yeah, he’s been close, he was out there in a game. It’s just part of our process.”
A tenth-year veteran with two first-team All-Pro nods and three Pro Bowls on his resume, Bakhtiari needs OTA reps no more than Aaron Rodgers does. LaFleur mentioned that as well, noting “This is a guy who’s played a lot of ball and it’s best to hold him from this portion of it.”
LaFleur remains unwilling to get into specifics about Bakhtiari’s injury or to elaborate on whether he thinks #69 will be ready to go by the time that camp begins in late July. But for now, the fact that the Packers had always intended on keeping their stud left tackle on the sidelines throughout spring practices should assuage at least some concerns about his long-term health and the potential that he returns fully healthy for the 2022 season.