GREEN BAY —The Green Bay Packers could be without their All-Pro left tackle for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field.
Or, David Bakhtiari’s back injury, which landed him on the team’s injury report on Wednesday and kept him out of practice on Thursday, might not be anything to worry about and he will be in his usual spot protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ blindside.
It’s hard to say at the moment, and apparently that’s just the way rookie coach Matt LaFleur wants it — for Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and John Q. Public.
LaFleur declined to answer post-practice questions Thursday after Bakhtiari didn’t take part in the session, instead watching practice on Clarke Hinkle Field in charcoal sweatpants, a dark green Packers hooded sweatshirt and a white backward-facing baseball cap while most of the rest of his teammates worked in pads.
“I’m not going to get into the injuries anymore,” LaFleur replied when asked after practice if holding Bakhtiari out was for precautionary reasons or if there was concern about the three-time all-pro.
It’s unclear whether Bakhtiari injured his back during Wednesday practice or if it worsened from Wednesday to Thursday, forcing him to sit out.
If Bakhtiari can’t go against the Vikings, the Packers would have to either move veteran right guard Billy Turner to left tackle and plug in one of the backups in Turner’s spot or start inexperienced backup tackle Alex Light. It seems more likely that the coaches would shift Turner and start Lucas Patrick or Elgton Jenkins at right guard.
“We’ve got a couple different options that we feel good about,” LaFleur said. “But we’re in the process of formulating those plans.”
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Those responses from LaFleur, even as he tried not to tip his hand on the seriousness of Bakhtiari’s injury, would seem to indicate Bakhtiari’s absence from practice was more than merely precautionary. Bakhtiari was not in the locker room during the post-practice media access period Thursday.
But veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga said the offensive line group isn’t moving forward with its backup plans for Sunday just yet.
“I don’t know if we’re at that point right now, to be honest with you. So I don’t even want to go down that path,” Bulaga said. “Obviously, Dave’s one of the best tackles in the game, so obviously whenever you remove a really good player, you’re not putting in a better player than that really good player. So, it obviously hurts the front.
“But guys have to step up — just like if someone gets nicked up in a game. Someone’s got to go in and play. They’re expected to win and play at a high level. But to my knowledge, we’re not at that point.”
The Packers added cornerback Jaire Alexander to the injury report as having been limited in practice because of a knee injury. Again, it was unclear whether Alexander’s knee was bothering him going into practice and caused him to limit his work or if he sustained some sort of injury during practice.
The other starting cornerback, Kevin King, was already on the injury report with two injuries: a hamstring injury that caused him to miss most of training camp and a chest injury, which apparently occurred during last week’s victory at Chicago. King was limited in practice for the second consecutive day but appears on track to play.
Inside linebacker Oren Burks (chest) and wide receiver Darrius Shepherd (hamstring) remained unable to practice. Cornerback Ka’dar Hollman (neck) continued to practice with a red no-contact jersey.