GREEN BAY — David Bakhtiari admitted that he hasn’t been the most pleasant fellow to be around while sidelined by a hamstring injury.
The Green Bay Packers veteran left tackle likes to say that he has “a terrible case of FOMO” – the fear of missing out – and he’s been missing out on a lot since suffering the injury late in the Sept. 10 regular-season opener against Seattle. Four games, to be exact.
“He’s semi-miserable to be with right now,” offensive line coach James Campen said Thursday evening. “But we love him.”
And the Packers would love nothing more than to get Bakhtiari back on the field for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings at noisy U.S. Bank Stadium, where the old Metrodome’s deafening din has carried over to the Vikings’ new home and where edge rushers Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter could give the Packers all kinds of problems.
“Anytime he’s ready, I’m ready,” left guard-turned-replacement left tackle Lane Taylor said with a smile.
There were no indications Thursday, though, that this will be the week Bakhtiari returns. He was able to take part in practice on a limited basis for the second straight day, but he sidestepped a question on how much in-pads 11-on-11 work he got during the day’s practice.
Before the hamstring injury, Bakhtiari has been extremely durable, coming back from a preseason knee injury to be ready for the start of the 2015 regular season, and only missing three games – including one playoff game – with a serious ankle injury at the end of the 2015 season. But he did not sound Thursday like a player on the verge of a triumphant return.
“The ankle was three games. This one’s been four – so far. And I mean, who knows how much longer?” Bakhtiari said. “I always thought when I was a rookie, ‘They’re going to do anything to get rid of me. So I want to make sure no one can step in.’ Now, it’s, ‘We’ve invested in you, you’re one of our guys, just get healthy and get back out there.’ Now that’s the mindset. In the training room, we’ve had a lot of talks, and they’ve definitely helped me become more patient.
“The biggest thing is to, when I go back out there, to stay out there. And make sure that I add to the team and don’t hinder us at all. … The best quote that was told me was, ‘You’ve got a long career. Don’t let the short term affect long term.’”
In the short term, if Bakhtiari can’t go, at least the Packers could start the same five on the line for the second straight week. Through five games, they have started five different combinations; if Bakhtiari doesn’t play, it figures to be Taylor at left tackle, Justin McCray at left guard, Corey Linsley at center, Jahri Evans at right guard and Bryan Bulaga, who returned to action last week, at right tackle. Taylor would likely see a lot of Griffen, who has six sacks in the Vikings’ first five games.
“It’s very loud there, and Griffen is a superb football player,” Campen said. “You have to give a little bit more help (to Taylor), probably. They’ve got two fine defensive ends, so what do you do? I mean, Hunter and Griffen are good players. So, we’ll work with it if we have to.”
Montgomery good to go?
Running back Ty Montgomery was a full participant in practice for the second consecutive day and he believes he’ll be ready to play against the Vikings, even with his multiple broken ribs still healing.
Montgomery left the Packers’ Sept. 28 win over Chicago after breaking at least two ribs on his first carry – and carried the ball four more times thereafter. He sat out last week’s game at Dallas but is wearing a bulky, protective flak jacket on his ribs and apparently got through Thursday’s in-pads practice without incident.
“I wasn’t medically cleared (to play against the Cowboys),” Montgomery said after practice. “I’m feeling good. … I did what I could (in practice). It made me feel very comfortable about today and the work today, and we’ll see how I feel tomorrow.’
With Montgomery out, rookie Aaron Jones ran for 125 yards against the Cowboys, so it wouldn’t appear that the Packers have to rush Montgomery back. But, coach Mike McCarthy said earlier in the week that if the medical staff clears Montgomery, Jones’ emergence would not factor into a decision on whether to play Montgomery.
Asked if he thought Montgomery could play with the flak jacket as protection, running backs coach Ben Sirmans replied, “Based on what we’ve seen in practice, I think he can.”
King, Burnett appear out
Rookie cornerback Kevin King remains in the concussion protocol but was able to at least attend Thursday’s practice. Nevertheless, unlike wide receiver Davante Adams, who was participating in practice throughout last week before playing against the Cowboys, he hasn’t been able to do anything and appears unlikely to play.
“The only report I got on Kevin this morning is he’s progressing,” McCarthy said. “That’s literally what the note said.”
Safety Morgan Burnett, who suffered a hamstring against the Cowboys, also did not practice and appears in peril of missing the game, too. Given his hybrid safety/inside linebacker role, it may take two players to replace him – with Kentrell Brice potentially handling Burnett’s safety role and rookie Josh Jones handling his inside linebacker work.
“You hate to ever have one of your key cogs not in there,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “But we’ve gone through a lot of different combinations here in the first five weeks. What it does is the guys have to step up and they have to perform.”
Capers said safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would wear the helmet radio headset if Burnett doesn’t play Sunday.