Injured Packers tackles David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins will not play in today's season opener against the Minnesota Vikings
MINNEAPOLIS -- David Bakhtiari is inactive for the Green Bay Packers opener Sunday at the Minnesota Vikings, something that shouldn't be surprising considering his only recent return to 11-on-11 team drills.
What is more unexpected is the two-time All-Pro left tackle will likely be inactive for the Packers home opener against the Chicago Bears next week, a source told PackersNews.
The team is considering the long-term ramifications of rushing Bakhtiari back to the field before he is ready, the source said. Bakhtiari started training camp on the physically unable to perform list, missing the first few weeks of practice while he rehabbed his surgically repaired left knee. He did not start taking team reps until Monday, and missed Friday's practice, a timeline that did not offer enough ramp-up to play full speed Sunday and likely next week also.
Fellow Pro Bowl offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins is also inactive. Jenkins, who was listed questionable like Bakhtiari, indicated the Packers are taking the same approach in his return from a torn ACL. Jenkins is also dealing with a pectoral injury. It would not be surprising if he also misses next week's home opener.
Along with Bakhtiari and Jenkins, top receiver Allen Lazard, cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles, safety Tariq Carpenter and receiver Samori Toure are inactive. Lazard was listed doubtful against the Vikings after a defensive tackle stepped on him in practice last week, injuring his ankle. The Packers called up receiver Juwann Winfree and safety Micah Abernathy from the practice squad as gameday elevations.
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The Packers dropped tight end Robert Tonyan from the injury report Friday, meaning he's ready to play after tearing his ACL in a late-October trip to the Arizona Cardinals last season. Kicker Mason Crosby also is active and will handle field goals and kickoffs after missing most of camp on PUP following knee surgery on his kicking leg.
On cutdown day, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said the Packers will stay with their offensive line configuration from the preseason if Bakhtiari and Jenkins are unavailable. That means Yosh Nijman at left tackle, Jon Runyan at left guard, Josh Myers at center, Jake Hanson at right guard and Royce Newman at right tackle. It will be the first career start for Hanson, the team's former sixth-round pick.
Missing the first two games does not mean the Packers errored in activating Bakhtiari and Jenkins from the PUP. If they had not been activated, neither would have been able to practice in the first four weeks of this season, not to mention the end of training camp. By activating them in camp, the Packers provided an option for Bakhtiari and Jenkins to play before the mandatory four-week window. The Packers travel to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Week 3 in a matchup of two favorites to win the NFC.
Bakhtiari has had at least three surgeries on his left knee since tearing his ACL on New Year's Eve 2020, the third coming after he played 27 snaps in last season's finale at the Detroit Lions. The surgery forced Bakhtiari to miss the entire offseason program. He wasn't activated from the PUP until Aug. 21.
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"It's unfortunate," Bakhtiari said on the day he was activated from PUP. "I'd love to be able to sit here and be like, 'It was so quick. Everything's smooth. This is great.' But there were a lot of unforeseen things that I had to go through, and it sucked. It definitely wore me down for sure, but I know I'm not going to quite. I don't care. You can keep going in there, we're going to keep freaking turning the engine on, and start in gear one and go up to gear six again. If we stall out in gear three, cool. What's going wrong? All right, cool. Let's go back through.
"That's more of the mental attrition that i had to constantly keep going through. It was when we started ramping up, and then I was like, 'God, I have to go through this again?' That was the part that just sucked, and I knew I could sit here and sulk or take it day by day. Sulking is not going to make my knee better."
Jenkins, listed questionable for Sunday, was activated off PUP one week earlier than Bakhtiari. He added a pectoral injury to his ledger after returning in camp, forcing him to miss practice two weeks after his activation.
Jenkins indicated this week he understood the team was going to be patient with his return.
"I want to play," Jenkins said. "I just think it will take time."