David Bakhtiari an elder statesman at Packers minicamp
GREEN BAY – Five seems like an arbitrary number. Especially in the NFL, where careers are short, players can accomplish a great deal in less than five years.
Take David Bakhtiari, the Green Bay Packers' left tackle.
A year ago, in his fourth NFL season, Bakhtiari was a second team All-Pro at one of the game’s premier positions. Yet he’s just now entering his fifth season. So despite signing a $48 million contract last September, Bakhtiari was not included when coach Mike McCarthy allowed all players with at least five years of experience to skip minicamp.
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That meant Bakhtiari was out on Clarke Hinkle Field on Tuesday, even if these June reps with no pads are designed for players still early in their development.
Bakhtiari said he doesn’t mind attending minicamp. Currently moving into a new house, he’d be in Green Bay anyway.
“I’m not too mad about it,” Bakhtiari said.
The challenge, Bakhtiari said, is pacing himself at practice.
The Packers understandably don’t want Aaron Rodgers' blindside blocker taking many reps this week. McCarthy’s decision to excuse veterans from minicamp is a smart way to provide his coaching staff more time to work with younger players. And there are plenty of youngsters filling out depth on the Packers' offensive line.
But Bakhtiari said it’s far from exciting to watch from a distance during practice.
“They want to keep me (with) limited reps,” Bakhtiari said. “I’ve always been a person, ‘Well, I’m out there. Let me go play. I’ll try new stuff.’ That’s how you get better. So for me, I think it’s also them making sure I’m not overdoing it. Because I just don’t want to stand. I don’t want to stand around. That’s not really in my blood.”
Bakhtiari is one of only two fifth-year players on the Packers' roster who just missed the minicamp cutoff line. He doesn’t have to look far to find the other: Left guard Lane Taylor lines up next to him each snap.
The two are on different trajectories in their career. Taylor is entering his second season as a starter, while Bakhtiari has started since the first game of his career. Being the most seasoned player at minicamp won’t be all that different than this fall. Bakhtiari’s stature within the locker room only increases as the seasons pass.
A year from now, maybe he won’t have to attend minicamp. Bakhtiari joked Tuesday he’ll keep an eye on where McCarthy draws the cutoff line.
“Next year,” Bakhtiari said, “if he lets out five years – if you’re five years and older – I will definitely be bitter about that. I will have some words being said. But it’s all good. It’s another chance you can help out.
“Paying it forward is big. There were older guys helping me when I got in, so it’s only right that I do the same."