But an ideal world isn’t always realistic. Bakhtiari tore his ACL on New Year’s Eve, which puts some serious doubt into whether he’ll be ready for the start of the regular season. Recovering from a significant knee injury takes time, and the fact he suffered the injury so late in the year is far from ideal.
I’d put nothing past Bakhtiari and I’d never count him out making a quicker return than expected, but the Packers are likely preparing to be without their superstar tackle for some of the 2021 season.
Bakhtiari said in June on “The Pat McAfee Show” that he was “about at the halfway point” in his recovery. If that proves to be the case, he might not be ready to return for many more months yet.
But here’s the good news: Green Bay’s offensive line has the depth to get by until Bakhtiari is fully healthy.
Pro Bowler Elgton Jenkins can make the transition to tackle, something many analysts believe will be his long-term future anyway. And if Jenkins plays at tackle, second-year Jon Runyan Jr. can take his spot at guard. The Packers have good depth and versatility.
A combination of Jenkins and Billy Turner at tackle, Runyan and Lucas Patrick at guard, and Josh Myers at center, would be a great starting five for Week 1.
Backups Royce Newman, Cole Van Lanen, and Ben Braden can all play different positions, and Jenkins, Turner, Runyan, and Patrick also can switch positions.
If Bakhtiari misses time, the Packers have the offensive line depth to manage it. They would miss their All-Pro, without a doubt, and the offensive line play won’t be as strong until Bakhtiari returns.
But in the meantime, the Packers are in good shape along the offensive line, allowing Bakhtiari to take all the time he needs to get back to full strength. As long as he’s ready for late in the season and potentially the playoffs, that’s all that matters.