David Bakhtiari thought he could make it to the field Saturday night against the Arizona Cardinals, but he didn’t know whether his injured ankle would last through the entire game.
The Green Bay Packers left tackle had missed the previous three games with an extensive ankle injury he initially thought would require immediate, season-ending surgery. Cleaning out his locker Monday morning, Bakhtiari said he tore five ligaments in his ankle, three of which were “very” significant.
WATCH at 6:30 p.m.: Clubhouse Live with David Bakhtiari
Eventually, he said, it was determined the ankle did not require immediate surgery. Bakhtiari wore a walking boot the past three weeks for stability. He did not rule out surgery this offseason, though he said it’s not expected.
“I don’t believe so,” Bakhtiari said. “I mean, I’m going to treat it and then talk to them some. I’ll be here for a few more days, but I think the most important thing is we go through the (season). Our biggest fear was that it would require immediate surgery, and then they subsided. So that was nice.
“I did a lot of damage to it. Tore a few ligaments, had some widening. It’s been a mess. So thankfully I didn’t have to get surgery. “
As for playing on his ankle Saturday in the Packers 26-20 overtime loss to the Cardinals in the NFC divisional playoff round?
“Yeah, it (expletive) hurt,” Bakhtiari said.
Bakhtiari said he was “really close” to playing in the Packers wild-card game at Washington. The risk of re-injury was determined to be too great, and it was important for Bakhtiari to be available against the Cardinals, a team that had nine sacks against the Packers in their first meeting.
It helped that Bakhtiari had some semblance of his usual mobility in Arizona. The mobility didn’t come pain-free. Bakhtiari had to
“Running really hurt,” Bakhtiari said. “I think anyone that goes back and look, you’ll see it. Anytime anything broke downfield, I just started walking. I did a speed walk to all the huddles and the line of scrimmage. Change of direction was really tough. Pretty much anything planting on the foot.
“That’s why I tried to just stay within my zone and make sure I got the ball as quick as I can, because I won’t be able to turn and run.”
Basically, any movement required from a left tackle hurt. Each snap was another gut check. Considering his injury, Bakhtiari played remarkably well against the Cardinals. He allowed no sacks and just three quarterback hurries, according to Pro Football Focus.
It was a major upgrade from the Packers’ left tackle situation in their first game at Arizona last month. In their 30-point blowout loss to the Cardinals, backup left tackle Don Barclay allowed four sacks, four quarterback hurries and was called for three penalties. Two of those sacks forced fumbles the Cardinals returned for touchdown.
At times, Bakhtiari made it look much easier than it felt. Bakhtiari’s ankle especially hurt late in the game when quarterback Aaron Rodgers rolled out of the pocket to buy time for receivers to get downfield.
“We had to run my guy high and wide,” Bakhtiari said, “and Aaron was rolling, and I was like, ‘Dude, I can’t. If you want to stay in the pocket, I can kind of manage this.’ But moving around was real tough. That was probably my biggest troubles, change of direction and twist on that and stuff.”