Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari making steady progress on ACL rehab

Olivia Reiner
Packers News
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GREEN BAY – Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari tore his ACL five months ago during practice, an injury he called a “fluke thing” that shook him both physically and mentally. Immediately after surgery Jan. 7, Bakhtiari began his journey to strengthen his repaired left knee and build his confidence through rehabilitation.

As for his sense of humor, well, he didn’t need much time to fix that.

“I've got no problem saying that I will 100 percent be ready for training camp,” Bakhtiari said at the first day of the Packers' mandatory minicamp Tuesday. “ ... in 2022.”

The three-time Pro Bowl, two-time first-team All-Pro tackle declined to put a timetable on his expected return during the 2021 season. Instead, he’s focused on making improvements each day to rebound to the standard that made him the league’s highest-paid offensive lineman last November. He continued to work off to the side with a trainer at Tuesday’s practice as he did last week at organized team activities (OTAs).

Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari waves at the start of minicamp practice Tuesday.

Not only will Bakhtiari have to get his knee back to full strength before getting cleared to return to contact, but he will also have to ensure that he’s well-conditioned for football. Because Bakhtiari is going through the first major injury of his career, he has leaned on advice from former teammates such as wide receiver Jordy Nelson and right tackle Bryan Bulaga who have also dealt with ACL tears.

“I've really just thrown the book at my knee and my goal is just whatever I can do to put my knee in the best situation to come back as healthy as possible,” Bakhtiari said. “As soon as possible is what I'm working on and I'm working towards.”

Davante Adams, veteran WRs return

After skipping voluntary OTAs the past two weeks, veteran wide receivers Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, Allen Lazard and Devin Funchess were present for the first day of mandatory minicamp.

Adams denied there being a concerted effort on behalf of the wide receivers to sit out of OTAs in support of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He said it just happened to work out that way – everyone made “their own decisions.” As a result, he forfeited $500,000 in workout bonuses.

“I didn't think we were gonna be coming out here,” Adams said. “(I) had a lot of stuff going on. Still getting in the flow. I liked how I came back into camp last year (after virtual OTAs) from doing my thing. So I felt pretty good about my training and making sure I was in a good spot to come back ready.”

Even though he was present for minicamp, Adams did not fully participate in practice. He said he wasn’t injured, but he cited a desire to be smart about his activity at this point in the offseason. He also acknowledged it’s important for the younger, less experienced receivers to take more reps in his place.

The reigning NFL receiving touchdowns leader heads into a contract year with a massive extension on the horizon. Adams could opt to hold out of training camp to spur the Packers into action, but rejected the possibility of doing so.

“I'll be here,” Adams said. “I signed up to go to work and play. I'm from East Palo Alto, California. I grew up with zero dollars. I'm not forfeiting any of my money that I've earned and signed for already.”

Devin Funchess debuts

Wide receiver Devin Funchess has been a Packer since April 2, 2020, but he hadn’t stepped foot on a football field in Green Bay until the opening of mandatory minicamp.

Funchess made his first practice appearance Tuesday after opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. His one-year contract tolled to 2021, allowing him to spend time with his family, which was impacted by the virus first-hand.

“The mental strain that I had to deal with is something I can't even explain to y'all,” Funchess said. “Y'all probably wouldn't even be ready for that because ... I don't know. But I'm here now. I play football. My grandfather gave me the blessing to play this year. So my grandfather's gonna see a show. That's all it is.”

In his five-year NFL career, Funchess has caught 164 passes for 2,265 yards and 21 touchdowns in 62 regular-season games. In 2019, Funchess missed each game except for one with a shoulder injury. But at 6-4, 225 pounds, Funchess stuck out for the right reasons to head coach Matt LaFleur.

“He sure looks the part,” LaFleur said. “There's no doubt about that. You're talking about a big, strong, long, physical guy that can run and sink his hips. So I know he's got a lot to learn, but we're excited about having him on this team and letting him go compete and we'll see what he can do.”

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