Packers lose left tackle David Bakhtiari for rest of season with serious knee injury
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers have lost left tackle David Bakhtiari for the rest of the season and the playoffs to a knee injury that they fear is a torn ACL, according to an NFL source with knowledge of the injury.
Bakhtiari, who has been named first team All-Pro once and second team three times, sustained the injury in practice Thursday. He was added to the injury report after the practice session.
NFL Network first reported the news of Bakhtiari's injury and that the Packers fear it will end his season.
The Packers’ options for replacing Bakhtiari include moving guard Elgton Jenkins to left tackle, which they did against San Francisco earlier this season after Bakhtiari left the game because of a ribs injury. They also could move right guard and tackle Billy Turner to left tackle, which they did for the three full games after Bakhtiari’s ribs injury.
Bakhtiari, 29, signed a four-year, $92 million contract extension on Nov. 15, making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL. His new contract included a $30 million signing bonus and averages $23 million in new money and $20.7 million over the full five years.
It wasn’t a hard decision for the Packers (12-3) given Bakhtiari’s talent – he was elected to the Pro Bowl this year – but they will likely not have him for a portion of next season as well as Week 17 and the playoffs this season.
An ACL injury can take 10-12 months to recover, so a return sometime in November or December of next season would be most likely.
This is a major blow to the Packers’ Super Bowl chances given Bakhtiari’s talent and importance in keeping quarterback Aaron Rodgers healthy. Coach Matt LaFleur can leave Bakhtiari one-on-one on almost any pass rusher and count on him protecting Rodgers’ blindside.
It would be the second ACL tear the Packers have had this season on the offensive line. Five top members of the offensive line – Bakhtiari, guard Lane Taylor, Turner, center Corey Linsley and right tackle Rick Wagner – have missed time due to knee injuries.
Another, sixth-round draft pick Simon Stepaniak, tore his ACL in December of 2019 and spent all of training camp and more than half the season rehabbing.
The Packers will have a number of options, but for the Chicago Bears game Sunday they may have to move Jenkins to Bakhtiari’s spot.
When Bakhtiari broke a rib and missed three games, Turner moved over from right tackle and started all of them there – at Houston, vs. Minnesota and at San Francisco. When Turner’s replacement at right tackle, Wagner, injured his knee, Turner moved back to right tackle and Jenkins played left tackle.
There’s a good chance LaFleur will have to go with Jenkins at left tackle because Wagner (knee) was a limited participant in practice Thursday and may not be able to play against the Bears. If Wagner can’t play, then Turner would probably play right tackle, Lucas Patrick would play right guard and rookie Jon Runyan would play left guard.
Runyan had to play left guard against San Francisco when Jenkins was moved to left tackle and held up well. He again played left guard when Linsley injured his knee against Indianapolis and Jenkins had to move from left guard to center.
Another option at left guard if the Packers are willing to take the chance is Stepaniak, who began practicing in mid-November and was moved from the non-football injury list to the 53-man roster on Dec. 9. He is a powerful blocker who probably would have gone much higher in the draft if not for his injury.
Losing Bakhtiari in practice is especially painful for the Packers because they were taking part in a non-padded practice, which generally precludes the players from having sudden or violent contact. Even with pads, there is no tackling, but without them, the players rarely go to the ground or get tangled up.