If the Green Bay Packers are to win their fifth straight NFC North title, they’ll have to beat the Minnesota Vikings without their starting left tackle.
David Bakhtiari, nursing an ankle injury, is inactive for tonight’s game against the Vikings at Lambeau Field. It’s the second straight week Bakhtiari has been inactive. Before last week’s absence at the Arizona Cardinals, the former fourth-round pick had started the first 35 games of his career, counting playoffs.
The Packers did not name a starter to replace Bakhtiari, keeping their cards hidden until after kickoff. Backup Don Barclay struggled mightily last week against the Cardinals, allowing four sacks and four quarterback hurries while being called for three penalties. Barclay’s struggles were so severe, it begged the question of whether he’s still capable of playing on the left side after a torn ACL forced him to miss the entire 2014 season.
A better option at left tackle may be backup center JC Tretter, who played left tackle in college at Cornell University and received reps at that position this past week. Tretter is undersized for the position, but his quickness and athleticism could serve him well at left tackle.
The Packers seem disinclined to move Bryan Bulaga from right tackle to left. Their thinking is it’s better to avoid weakening the offensive line in two positions, even though left tackle is by far the most important spot on the line.
The Packers also ruled starting cornerback Sam Shields inactive for the second straight week. Shields has not played since exiting the Packers game Dec. 20 at the Oakland Raiders with a concussion.
The Packers will have the services of defensive tackle B.J. Raji (concussion), defensive tackle Mike Daniels (groin) and outside linebacker Mike Neal (hip). All three starters were listed as questionable Friday, though Raji and Neal were upgraded to probable after Saturday’s practice.
Here is the full list of Packers inactives vs. the Vikings.
- 69 T David Bakhtiari
- 37 CB Sam Shields
- 7 QB Brett Hundley
- 36 CB LaDarius Gunter
- 79 G Josh Walker
- 80 TE Justin Perillo
- 91 LB Jayrone Elliott