There is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding several key Green Bay Packers as the club prepares to open the season Sunday in Minnesota.
The team’s starting tackles — David Bakhtiari (knee) and Elgton Jenkins (knee/pectoral) — are both listed as questionable for the game. After practicing Wednesday and Thursday on a limited basis, Bakhtiari did not take part in Friday’s session.
“I’m not getting into any of our injuries today,” coach Matt LaFleur said when asked why Bakhtiari didn’t practice. “That’s the injury report and we’re going to leave it at that.”
Bakhtiari has played just 27 snaps since suffering a knee injury at the end of the 2020 season and didn’t return to team drills in practice until the last week or so. Still, LaFleur wouldn’t have an issue putting him in there against a tough Vikings pass rush featuring Danielle Hunter and former Packers linebacker Za’Darius Smith.
“Obviously, the experience level plays a big part of that, but I think we’ve seen enough,” LaFleur said. “Just his ability to go out there and move. He’s been looking pretty good.”
If Bakhtiari can’t go, it would be Yosh Nijman at left tackle. The third-year pro started eight games last year in place of Bakhtiari and Jenkins.
At right tackle, if Jenkins can’t go, it would likely be Royce Newman. He played almost exclusively at guard last year as a rookie but has spent much of training camp working at the tackle spot.
“He played a lot of ball for us last year, which definitely helps,” LaFleur said of his comfort level of starting Newman. “We try to cross-train those guys as much as possible. I know this, the game is not too big for him. I know he’s going to go out and battle whether it’s at guard or tackle. We’ve got a lot of confidence in him.”
It’s also possible if Jenkins plays that he would be the left tackle, a spot he started at in eight games last year before going down with a season-ending knee injury. That may then free up Nijman to move to right tackle, something LaFleur said they would have no hesitation doing if that was what got their best five linemen on the field.
The rest of the injury report was a mixed bag. Green Bay will almost certainly be without wide receiver Allen Lazard, who missed the entire week with an ankle injury. He is listed as doubtful.
Allen Lazard stopped for a couple questions from @RobDemovsky, @ByRyanWood and me and when asked what he needs to do to play Sunday, he said “pray.”
Asked him if this is a long-term thing. Lazard asked what long-term is. I said Week 2.
The good news was tight end Robert Tonyan, who tore the ACL in his left knee last November, practiced on a limited basis all week and does not have an injury designation, meaning he will play.
“He’s made a couple plays in practice that are just different than what we’ve had from the other guys in his absence,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said this week. “That’s no disrespect to those guys. It’s just the level he’s capable of playing at is at that Pro Bowl caliber level.”
In addition to Tonyan, the club will have kicker Mason Crosby back. He missed the entire preseason after undergoing knee surgery in the offseason.