Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Packers All-Pro OT David Bakhtiari could start Week 1 following three knee surgeries, 20-month recovery

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Nearly two years ago, Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari suffered a severe knee injury that has left him sidelined since, with the exception of a short appearance in one game. After more than 20 months of recovery, the All-Pro is optimistic he will be able to start Week 1 for the Packers as they face the Minnesota Vikings.

“Yeah, I mean, I’m on the active [roster] just like anyone else,” Bakhtiari said (via ESPN).

Bakhtiari admitted he’ll have to approach practice and the game in a new way following the surgeries on his knee, but he is ready to get on the field.

“I can get through the season. It’s going to be fine. You have to just manage while playing,” Bakhtiari said (via ESPN) when asked if he could get through an entire game. “I’m just getting back in the swing of things. So, I mean, I think there’s normal rust and then new normal with three surgeries, so just kind of working that out and figuring out what my routine is.”

Bakhtiari had a third surgery on the knee this offseason.

Since the conclusion of training camp, Bakhtiari has participated multiple times in 11-on-11 drills, a good sign that he will be able to return Week 1, though there is no guarantee he will start against the Vikings. Bakhtiari spent a lot of time on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list before being taken off the list late in training camp.

On Dec. 31 2020, Bakhtiari tore his ACL in practice and had additional damage to his knee, which is why the recovery was so lengthy. He made his initial return in last year’s Week 18 game against the Detroit Lions, coming in for just 27 plays.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has been impressed by Bakhtiari’s determination to return to the All-Pro level he was at before the injury.

“Dave had a very significant injury — much more than just an ACL way back when it occurred,” Gutekunst said in July (via NFL.com). “I thought he busted his tail to get back last season.”

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