TownNews.com Content Exchange

GREEN BAY — There David Bakhtiari was on Wednesday, back where he belonged — on a football field.

But instead of the Green Bay Packers’ five-time All-Pro left tackle going through the team’s second open organized team activity practice like the rest of his teammates at Clarke Hinkle Field, Bakhtiari spent his time doing exercises and agility drills off to the side as he comes back from reconstructive surgery on his left knee, in which he tore the ACL during a Dec. 31 practice.

Working with athletic trainer Nate Weir, the team’s coordinator of rehabilitation, and alongside second-year tight end Josiah Deguara, who is also coming back from an ACL tear, Bakhtiari went through a variety of footwork drills, medicine ball exercises and strength moves as he aims to return to the lineup in time for the team’s Sept. 12 regular-season opener at New Orleans.

“Anytime you have a veteran like that out there at practice, I think it just kind of lifts everybody up,” head coach Matt LaFleur said afterward. “He’s really working hard. I think he came back and he’s in excellent shape. We’re just going to take it one day at a time.

“I think he’s a little bit ahead of schedule. Then again, there’s a long way until the start of the season, and we’ll see where he’s at when it comes to that time.”

LaFleur acknowledged that the timing of Bakhtiari’s injury means he’d have to make remarkable strides to be fully cleared for the season opener. While he won’t bet against the headstrong Bakhtiari pulling it off, LaFleur also said the team’s medical staff will have to be careful with him. Bakhtiari signed a four-year, $92 million extension just six weeks before his injury.

“There’s a lot of people that are involved in that decision, and David’s certainly one of them,” LaFleur said. “I know that he’s a guy that loves to push himself and I know he’s champing at the bit to be out there with his teammates. But ultimately, sometimes you’ve got to protect these guys from themselves.

“That’s just the mentality that he has. That’s why he is the player that he is today. And so, we’ll be smart about it. We’re going to make sure that he’s ready, that he feels comfortable, that our training staff feels comfortable with where he’s at before we make any decisions like that.”

Veteran interior lineman Lucas Patrick said Bakhtiari’s presence at practice did give the line the lift that LaFleur thought it did.

“I think the best thing that Dave does, he raises the whole standard of the room,” Patrick said. “Even at practice today, communicating with us and giving us tips and pointers. He’s the best at his position, so when you have the best (player) at a position on your team and in your room, guys like that just raise everyone’s standards.

“It was really good to see him moving, see his spirits up. I think last season, the way it ended for him was tough, but he never blinks in the face of adversity. He always answers with the right mentality, the right work ethic.”

Extra points

The Packers announced the signing of first-round draft choice Eric Stokes. The former Georgia cornerback was the No. 29 overall pick in the NFL draft, and his signing means eight of the team’s nine draft picks are under contract. Third-round pick Amari Rodgers, a wide receiver from Clemson who has been participating in OTAs, is the only unsigned pick. … With Bakhtiari rehabbing and versatile third-year lineman Elgton Jenkins not at practice, Ben Braden worked as the first-team left tackle. Veteran Billy Turner stayed at his usual right tackle spot instead of shifting over. … According to ESPN, the Packers structured tight end Robert Tonyan’s one-year, $3.34 million restricted free agent tender, which he signed last week, in a way to create cap space. They added extra voidable years to the deal, so they’re creating $1.88 million in cap room they wouldn’t otherwise have had for 2021. … The Packers’ top five wide receivers — Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown and Devin Funchess — remained absent from the voluntary workouts. Also missing were Jenkins, cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Ka’dar Hollman, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Photos: Packers' 2020 season in pictures

Check out photo galleries from every game of 2020 through the end of the regular season and the playoffs.

This article originally ran on madison.com.

Locations

TownNews.com Content Exchange

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.