Packers anticipating LT David Bakhtiari to return to practice this week

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There is no guarantee he is ready to play, but the Green Bay Packers are expecting to get back All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari at practice this week.

Coach Matt LaFleur said Monday that he is “anticipating” Bakhtiari to practice, but he also confirmed a “ramp-up period” is necessary for a player coming off a significant injury, and “time will tell” if he’ll be ready to play immediately.

“Certainly, when you’re coming off a significant injury, you don’t want to just throw someone out there,” LaFleur said. “We want to make sure, number one, that physically, his knee is in great shape and he’s not at further risk of doing more damage to it. And there’s a confidence factor you develop by just playing football, whether it’s in practice, so there is a ramp-up period.”

Bakhtiari suffered a torn ACL requiring surgery on Dec. 31 of last year. He’s been on the PUP list since the start of training camp. After missing the first six games, Bakhtiari is now eligible to come off the PUP list and return to practice. Once he returns, he’d get a three-week window to practice with the team before being activated to the 53-man roster, but he can be activated at any time.

Over the next three weeks, the Packers play the Washington Football Team, Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs. At this point, he’s roughly 10 months removed from the injury.

The Packers will likely continue to be extra cautious with one of the franchise’s core players. Bakhtiari, a five-time All-Pro, signed a four-year, $92 million contract extension last year.

Bakhtiari’s return could stabilize an offensive line that has been shuffled and reshuffled several times due to injuries this season. With Bakhtiari at left tackle, Elgton Jenkins could move back to left guard and create a dominant combo on the left side of the offensive line.

Over the first six games, the Packers started Jenkins at left tackle in three games (at Saints, vs. Lions, at Bears) and Yosh Nijman in three others (at 49ers, vs. Steelers, at Bengals).

The first official practice of the week for the Packers is on Wednesday. More should be known on Bakhtiari’s status by then.

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