The injury bug just can’t seem to leave the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line alone.
After losing their starting right guard to a season-ending injury and playing without their starting right tackle for the first two games, the Packers saw another important piece of their offensive line — All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari — go down with a chest injury in the third quarter of Sunday’s 38-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He was initially ruled questionable to turn with veteran tackle Rick Wagner filling in as his replacement on the left side, but his status was updated to out partway into the fourth quarter.
As if things couldn’t get worse, All-Pro LT David Bakhtiari is down. Rick Wagner is warming up. Aaron Rodgers is going over to check on Bakhtiari.
— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) October 18, 2020
“Any time he’s not able to finish, there’s concern for sure,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said about Bakhtiari’s injury status in Sunday’s postgame. “From a teammate standpoint, from a best friend standpoint, I’ll definitely check on him. I checked on him, he seemed to be in good spirits, but I’m not sure the extent of his injury at this time.”
Bakhtiari was injured on the Packers’ first drive of the third quarter, getting knocked down while blocking for an Aaron Jones run and appearing to have NAME NAME’s knee land on his chest. Packers trainers briefly attended to him on the field before he walked off under his own power, wincing with a slight limp.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur didn’t provide specific details about his star offensive tackle’s injury during Sunday’s postgame, but he was able to offer a little bit of optimism when asked whether they believed Bakhtiari had sustained a serious injury.
“I don’t believe so, but I know he’s still getting evaluated,” LaFleur told reporters during his postgame Zoom call. “But we’re hopeful that he’ll be OK.”
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Baktiari Wouldn’t Be Easily Replaced
Bakhtiari is arguably the most important pending free agent for the Packers in the upcoming offseason, and that’s saying something considering that group also includes notable starters such as running back Aaron Jones, cornerback Kevin King and center Corey Linsley.
Bakhtiari had missed just two snaps this season prior to Sunday’s game and played on every down during the 2019 season, bringing both a consistent presence and quality to his game that has earned him a reputation as one of the NFL’s top left tackles. According to Pro Football Focus, Bakhtiari is the highest-graded offensive tackle (92.0) since the 2016 season.
Finding a replacement for that type of output would be difficult, especially when the Packers’ options are limited to Wagner and … that’s basically it. Second-year tackle Yosh Nijman is also on the active roster after spending some of 2019 on the Packers’ practice squad, but he has only played a handful of reps and seems far from ready to step into a major role.
Wagner was a veteran free-agent signing this past offseason who was meant to replace ex-starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga, but he lost a training camp battle to Billy Turner and has played primarily a backup role in 2020. While it wouldn’t be fair to blame much of the Packers’ bad performance on him, the Bucs defense exploited him quickly with Lavonte David and Jason Pierre-Paul blowing past him for a sack on Rodgers on just his third play replacing Bakhtiari.
At the same time, Bakhtiari has been a full-time starter since the start of his 2013 rookie season and has only missed six starts during that span. Don’t count him out for Week 7 even if he does show up in some capacity on this week’s injury report.
More Packers Injured During Sunday’s Loss
Bakhtiari might have been the most significant Packers starter to leave Sunday’s loss with an injury, but he wasn’t the only one.
The Packers also saw starting safety Darnell Savage Jr. head into the locker room with trainers during the fourth quarter, getting labeled questionable to return with a quadriceps injury but staying out for the remainder of the Bucs’ 38-10 rout. Should they need it, the Packers have some options for safety depth with Raven Greene, Will Redmond and seventh-round rookie Vernon Scott all getting involved in the rotation even when Savage is active.
The last of the banged-up Packers was defensive lineman Tyler Lancaster, who did not return to the game after getting knocked early with a shoulder injury. His absence meant more of 2017 third-round pick Montravius Adams — which wasn’t always a good thing — and certainly didn’t help as the Packers struggled to contain the Bucs.
LaFleur was not asked about the injuries to Savage or Lancaster and did not provide updates.