GREEN BAY, Wis. – You hear NFL people say it all the time about rookies: They won’t be effective until the game slows down for them.
If you listened to David Bakhtiari talk after he made his NFL preseason debut as the Green Bay Packers’ starting left tackle on Friday night, he described the game against the Arizona Cardinals like a veteran might.
“They didn’t call anything or show anything that was alarming,” Bakhtiari, a fourth-round draft pick from Colorado, said.
He said that at no point did he have to lean over to left guard Josh Sitton and ask, “What are we doing? What are we doing?”
“Everything felt pretty good; it felt pretty slow,” Bakhtiari said.
That in itself is somewhat remarkable considering he took over as the starter less than a week earlier. He was pressed into action after Bryan Bulaga was lost for the season because of a knee injury in last Saturday’s scrimmage. His first practice as the starting left tackle came on Tuesday morning.
“I just didn’t feel overwhelmed, that’s probably the best way to put it,” Bakhtiari said. “I didn’t feel overwhelmed at all.”
On Friday, Bakhtiari played the entire first half of the 17-0 loss to the Cardinals. Though the offense struggled, Bakhtiari had no obvious bad plays.
“I didn’t get touched tonight,” said quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who played one series and was 3-of-5 passing for 62 yards. “We had a few dropbacks, I think five attempts, so I’m sure he was pretty good over there. It’s nice when you’re not worried about him, and tonight I wasn’t worried about him. He’s a confident kid. I think he’s got a bright future for us.
“For him, it’s about experience and going against good pass rushers, and next week will be a good challenge with those guys they have in St. Louis.”
When the Packers opened training camp, they hoped Bakhtiari could push for the starting right tackle job but were forced to move him to the left side after Bulaga’s injury. He has looked natural at left tackle, which is where he played his final two seasons at Colorado.
“This [performance] definitely makes me feel more comfortable and definitely makes me believe in myself,” Bakhtiari said. “But this is only one half of one preseason game. I still need to get a full game in and see how I can do through four quarters.”