GREEN BAY, Wis. -- David Bakhtiari hasn’t forgotten how it felt watching the Green Bay Packers kick off their Dec. 27 game at Arizona without him -- the big, tough third-year left tackle had a few tears in his eyes -- and he hasn’t forgotten what it felt like to watch his comrades struggle without him, either.
“We got f------ spanked. Simple as that,” Bakhtiari recalled after practice Thursday. “So of course it sucked [to watch]. The score reflected that.”
As harsh as Bakhtiari’s assessment of the Packers’ 38-8 loss to the Arizona Cardinals was -- a game in which quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers (eight) and Scott Tolzien(one) were sacked nine times -- his expected return has his fellow linemen feeling much better about the team’s chances in the rematch during Saturday night's NFC divisional round playoff game at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Still, Bakhtiari himself was trying not to get his hopes too high Thursday.
“I’m not a mind reader,” Bakhtiari replied when asked if the medical staff had given him any hints.
Coach Mike McCarthy had termed Thursday “a big day for David” to show his ankle was ready for game action and said before practice that the plan was for him to do “a lot more” than he had been. Afterward, Bakhtiari said he felt “good” and experienced no setbacks during practice, even though he was listed as a limited participant on the injury report.
Asked if he could say he was definitely playing after the disappointment of missing three straight starts -- including last Sunday’s NFC wild-card win at Washington -- Bakhtiari replied, “I’m very optimistic. [But] my confidence about being out there is the same. I was very confident last week, and I’m very confident this week.”
Bakhtiari went through a pre-game workout before the team’s Jan. 3 loss to Minnesota but was still inactive; last week at Washington, he didn’t work out before the game and was again in street clothes.
With an increased workload and one light practice remaining on Friday morning before they depart for Arizona, all signs point toward him playing. Perhaps he simply didn’t want to jinx it Thursday by saying so.
“I just want to play,” Bakhtiari said. “I don’t want to sit on the sideline and watch my other friends and teammates go out and work. I like to work. I don’t like sitting by the wayside. Especially the caliber of player that I know I am, I want to go and help out the team the best way I can.”