Cory's Corner: Play The Waiting Game With Bakh

It isn't worth pushing the All-Pro left tackle to play. 

David Bakhtiari has been the elephant in the room this offseason. 

The word on the Packers All-Pro left tackle has been mum. Bakhtiari tore his ACL in practice on December 31, 2020. He had surgery but as he recounted to our Aaron Nagler, “The only way I can describe it, it was like I had a water balloon in my knee. When you bend it, it shoots out everywhere and the problem with that is it basically shuts off. Fluid gets into places. It’s just uncomfortable.”

Bakhtiari, 30, played only 27 snaps last year — which was the first year he didn’t tally at least 96 percent of the offensive snaps in his nine-year pro career. 

It’s already mid-June and Bakhtiari still hasn’t practiced. Obviously Aaron Rodgers would be more at ease if Bakh could block his blind side, especially because he was an All-Pro in 2018 and 2020. 

So where does that leave Bakhtiari? I don’t know. I’ve heard plenty of people say that this is the time for Green Bay to trade him. If he can’t play for the team that drafted him in the fourth round out of the University of Colorado, why would he be able to play for another team? 

The best option is not to push it. It’s great that there is nothing structurally wrong with the knee, but if doctors and medical personnel cannot gain control of the pesky knee fluid, I’m not sure what the answer is. As a left tackle, he is regularly asked to have good lateral movement as he prevents quarterback hunters from burying Green Bay’s future Hall of Famer. How good can your lateral movement be when you have a water balloon around your knee?

Bakhtiari only has a cap hit of $13.4 million this year but he also has a dead cap hit of $35.8 million. The Packers have been able to get under the salary cap by the hair of their teeth, but they cannot swallow $35.8 million. 

Nobody wants to hear this, but the answer is more time. The Packers really don’t have a choice but to let time do its work. The most important thing though, is that Green Bay and Bakhtiari cannot get antsy. He may feel like he is able to play by going 80 percent through non-padded drills, but what’s the value if he must deal with tremendous swelling the next morning?

There is no argument that Bakhtiari has been one of the best left tackles in the league the last several years. This team is not as good without a healthy Bakh playing that cornerstone position. Pro Football Focus has Green Bay’s offensive line ranked No. 5 and that’s with huge injury question marks for Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins. 

The good news is that the offensive line is deep. Yosh Nijman proved that he can play and might be the best player that plenty of people have never heard of. With Brian Gutekunst’s track record of drafting offensive linemen, don’t count out rookie Sean Rhyan to develop into something special. 

So what does that mean? You’re not going to want to hear this, but the Packers can afford to wait a little. There’s no use in forcing the veteran into playing if his injury might potentially cause Rodgers to get injured himself. 

It’s OK to wait, it’s not OK to panic just yet. 

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (11)

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Pantz_Burp's picture

June 14, 2022 at 06:47 am

Early bird gets the worm BUT the second mouse gets the CHEESE. Who be getting the cheese? 🧀

Let's get him back on the field kinda like Bakhenstein.

"It isn't worth pushing the All-Pro left tackle to play."... okay, I will be pulling for him then.

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porupack's picture

June 14, 2022 at 08:55 am

ha. My daughter has a similar take on that: The early bird gets the worm, but the lazy worm lives longer"

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NickPerry's picture

June 14, 2022 at 06:29 am

"With Brian Gutekunst’s track record of drafting offensive linemen, don’t count out rookie Sean Rhyan to develop into something special. "

I think you could say the same thing about Zack Tom. Tom needs to add a little more weight but this is a man who can play ANYWHERE on the O-Line. I hope Bakhtiari is able to practice when it matters and be out there week one against the Vikings. But if not, Gute has built up a lot of depth in the the O-Line room, not just this year but the pervious 2 drafts as well.

Runyan, Van Lanen, Newman, Meyers, Walker, Tom, and Rhyan have all been drafted the last 3 years and so has Jake Hanson who I think is cut this summer to go along with Nijman. All Packers fans are hopeful we see 69 out there week one and 74 soon after, If not, the Packers are in good shape until they are ready.

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Coldworld's picture

June 14, 2022 at 07:41 am

The waiting with Bakh isn’t the cause for concern at this point in the off season. The concern is why there is a need to even think about keeping him out of walk throughs in shorts so long after his injury and what that might mean. We can’t know.

It could be excessive caution but it could also suggest an ongoing concern. As such, it’s not nothing because it has occurred: some concerns prompted it, but it may or may not be significant.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

June 14, 2022 at 07:58 am

You're right, Cory - there really isn't anything GB can do here other than wait and hope for the best.

This has to be incredibly frustrating for Bahk, as well. If he ends up starting camp on PUP again and isn't able to get cleared by the PUP window closing, you have to wonder if he's going to be considering hanging up the cleats.

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mrtundra's picture

June 14, 2022 at 08:27 am

If Bakh and Jenkins aren't ready to go, week one, we will need either Nijman/ Rhyan/Walker at LT and Runyan/Tom at LG with Myer at C and either Newman/Tom at RG and Rhyan/ Van Lanen/ Walker at RT. MLF will need to get some plays ready that require ARod to get rid of the ball quickly, or to hand off the ball to Jones or Dillon, to avoid the opponent's pass rush. Since we play the vikings, week one, ARod had better watch his blind side even after he gets rid of the ball. There's nothing, IMO, the vikes wouldn't like to do more than to put ARod out of the game for an extended period of time. I think our OL will be healthy and ready to go, week one. Training camp and preseason will sort things out rather quickly. GO PACK, GO!!!

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porupack's picture

June 14, 2022 at 09:08 am

It is so unfortunate to lose 2 such OL studs both of last 2 years, and all the "what ifs" had Bahk and Jenkins not been injured for the playoffs, and the one or two plays that may have made the difference to get to SB. Cry we must, then we must move on. Many teams were decimated and essentially lost an entire season even earlier. Too bad, too bad, too bad. So back to Cory; you're right. nothing to do but a) wait till the last possible minute, b) draft and secure other capable OL (done), c) use GB's OL coaching gurus to do again what their track record suggests: prepare the next guys to excel, d) make no excuses and pound Minnepo, the despicable Jerry-cows, and eventually the entitled and luck strewn Brady-buc.

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PatrickGB's picture

June 14, 2022 at 10:22 am

Knee Effusion can be a chronic problem. Being overweight and playing in the NFL doesn’t help. Most times rest and physical therapy helps. Often the cause is arthritis related. His age and wear and “tear” are concerning. If it is degrading then it will remain a constant problem until knee replacement. I assume that he has been looked at by the best doctors. Yet if it continues then it’s a real problem. My hope is that the team is sticking with the best treatment and not covering up the kneed 😉 for more surgeries.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 14, 2022 at 10:50 am

This is going to sound like Coachspeak, but here it is anyway: Bakhtiari is an asset when he's on the field, but he's not a Pro Bowl tackle when he's on the sideline unable to play. He's just a guy at that point. The old adage "you can't help the club from the tub" certainly applies here.

We'll obviously have to be cautious with him because it's a long season and we'd like to have him with us in the playoffs, so I've been a proponent of leaving Nijman at LT as his backup so that he could get those reps in practice, and in games, to keep Bakhtiari's snap count down and increase the likelihood he'll last the entire season. I kind of see this as a Win/Win scenario.....we keep Bakhtiari healthier and we get to develop Nijman more.

Throw in Runyan as a reliable LG and that should take care of the left side of the line. I feel better about Myers now that he's been practicing everyday and looking OK, and I also think Tom could be our backup guy in the interior.

I'm really wondering if Newman is our RT? I mean, that's what he was in college and he played out of position last year, but he battled even when his head was spinning and maybe a return to RT would be a good move for him.

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arthurl's picture

June 14, 2022 at 11:27 am

Absolutely correct; at this point the only thing is to hope the knee responds and Bakt can get back on the field. I was impressed last season how the OL preformed basically without two All Pro players most of the season. We lost couple guys from that squad, but Gute has a proven track record in drafting quality OL prospects and three more were added in this last draft. Combine that with the excellent coaching and the Packers appear to have a recipe to play high caliber ball while Bakt and Jenkins recover. Hopefully as the season wears on these two get back on the field. What I saw with the young guys last season definitely encouraged me this team can still ball.

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Johnblood27's picture

June 14, 2022 at 06:13 pm

"Hair of their teeth" who has hairy teeth?

your malaprops or mixed metaphors or malaphors are showing, and you are no Norm Crosby...

You got me again Corey!

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