The Green Bay Packers have gotten nothing but bad injury news for weeks, a trend that may have finally begun to turn Saturday.
All Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari is expected to suit up for the first time this season on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It will be just the second time the offensive lineman has played in a regular season game since tearing his ACL in December of 2020, an injury that ultimately required multiple surgeries to address.
Adam Schefter of ESPN on Saturday broke the news that Bakhtiari’s would give it a go in Tampa Bay.
“Packers’ OT David Bakhtiari, listed as questionable for Sunday due to his lingering knee issues, is expected to make his 2022 regular season debut vs. the Buccaneers, per source,” Schefter tweeted.
Bakhtiari played in just one game last year, taking the field for a few handfuls of snaps in a meaningless Week 18 contest against the Detroit Lions. He sat out Green Bay’s sole playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers two weeks later.
Bakhtiari’s Return Huge For Sputtering Packers Offense
Bakhtiari’s availability couldn’t have come at a better time, as the Packers hit the road to square off with one of the better defenses in the NFC.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers struggled mightily in his attempts to move the ball through the air against a swarming Minnesota Vikings defense in Week 1, resulting in a performance of just 195 yards and one interception. The Vikings also got to the reigning NFL MVP frequently throughout the afternoon, logging four sacks and five quarterback hits.
Right tackle Elgton Jenkins was also missing in Week 1, but returned the following Sunday to help the Packers to a victory over the Chicago Bears. The paring of both of Green Bay’s starting tackles, each of them Pro Bowlers, on the field at once should change the dynamics of the offense in a meaningful way, affording Rodgers more time to let plays develop for a group of relatively inexperienced wide receivers.
Packers Send Top WR Sammy Watkins to IR For at Least 4 Weeks
While the passing game starts with protection, it ends on the finger tips of wide receivers — a department in which the Packers continue to find themselves lacking.
The situation only got worse this week when Green Bay sent Sammy Watkins to the injured reserve (IR) list with a bad hamstring. The designation means that the team’s top performer at wideout to date will miss at least the next four games.
The Packers probably won’t make any immediate moves to add another pass catcher to the roster with less than 24 hours until their matchup with the Bucs. Though considering the general lack of production, compounded by injuries to top receivers, Green Bay may finally bite the bullet and sign a veteran wideout sometime in the next week to supplement the position group.
In the meantime, high-level play from Bakhtiari and the rest of the offensive line will be crucial to keeping the Packers afloat in a competitive NFC.