The protector of Aaron Rodgers' blind side is expected to practice this week for the first time since he tore the ACL in his left knee during a practice on New Year's Eve. Bakhtiari remains on the physically unable to perform list, but it opens a three-week window in which he can practice without playing.
It's unlikely he would play this Sunday against Washington, and with a short week after that leading into the Thursday game at Arizona, that game also might be out of the question. But it could set up a return for the Nov. 7 game at Kansas City, which would be a little more than 10 months after his injury. That's typically the earliest the Packers allow an ACL-rehab player to play.
"When you're coming off a pretty significant injury, you don't want to just throw somebody out there," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said Monday. "We want to make sure that, No. 1, physically his knee is in great shape and he's not at further risk of doing more damage to it. And also I think there's a confidence factor that you develop by playing football, whether that's in practice, so there is a ramp-up period."
This is the first possible week Bakhtiari was eligible to begin practicing, so it's a good sign that he's going to work right away, most likely beginning with Wednesday's practice.
It's possible that Bakhtiari could play before rookie center Josh Myers returns from the knee injury he sustained in Sunday's win at Chicago. Myers left after four plays, and although LaFleur confirmed Monday that it's not a season-ending injury, Myers is likely to miss multiple games. However, his replacement on Sunday, Lucas Patrick, graded out as the Packers' top offensive lineman against the Bears, according to LaFleur.
The offense could get another key player back this week in wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who has been battling a hamstring injury. He's eligible to come off injured reserve after missing the requisite three games. The Packers' No. 2 receiver was seen running hard before pregame warmups two weeks ago, but LaFleur wouldn't commit to a return this week.
On defense, outside linebacker Preston Smith, who dropped out after eight plays Sunday because of an oblique injury, is in the day-to-day category, but the Packers are typically cautious about players with soft-tissue injuries. Then there are the two opening-day starting cornerbacks, Jaire Alexander and Kevin King, both with shoulder injuries.
King did not play against the Bears, but LaFleur said injured reserve (and missing three games) likely isn't necessary. However, he could not rule out season-ending surgery for Alexander, who is currently on IR trying to rehab and return without an operation.
"I can't 100% rule that out, but we feel like it's progressing nicely," LaFleur said. "It's a constant thing that we're always kinda re-scanning if you will, and making sure that we get the right opinions from everybody to help Jaire out and put him in the best possible position."
The Packers (5-1) have perhaps their most difficult two-game stretch of the season after Sunday's home game against Washington, when they are set to go on the road against Arizona and Kansas City.
In LaFleur's first two seasons, the Packers have been relatively injury-free, but that has changed early in his third season.
"We gotta get healthy," Rodgers said Sunday. "I mean Dave's coming back this week to practice, hopefully. Obviously, with Jaire being hurt and Preston got hurt today and Kevin King being hurt, we're just a little banged up. So it's nice to be 5-1 and be banged up and have won five in a row, but we gotta get healthy as we move forward against an important stretch coming up."