The start of training camp means the start of regular press conferences with the media for key members of the Green Bay Packers organization, including general manager Brian Gutekunst. Ahead of the team’s opening practice on Wednesday, Gutekunst took questions from reporters and provided a slew of updates regarding many of the players who are dealing with injuries as camp begins.
Among the most impactful updates Gutekunst provided was one on left tackle David Bakhtiari, who remains in rehab for the knee injury he suffered in practice on New Year’s Eve of 2020. Gutekunst revealed that the injury was much more than just a run-of-the-mill ACL tear, which could help explain the reason for his continued absence and his issues late last season.
On the other hand, the Packers’ other injured offensive lineman — Elgton Jenkins — appears to be on track for a return sooner than expected, which suggests that his injury was a “simple” torn ACL. That’s great news for a Packers line that would greatly benefit from either player’s return, and if both would be able to go again soon, even better.
Here are the money quotes from Gutekunst on those players, plus updates on injured receivers Sammy Watkins and Christian Watson.
First, Gutekunst revealed that four players will be cleared off injury lists and will participate in the Packers’ first practice on Wednesday. That group includes veteran defensive lineman Dean Lowry and running back Patrick Taylor, who will both come off the Physically Unable to Perform list, along with linebacker Caliph Brice and offensive tackle Caleb Jones who will be returning from the Non-Football Injury list. Look for all of those players to be part of practice today.
Here are a few other updates on specific players dealing with injuries.
LT David Bakhtiari’s injury was even worse than previously known
“We’re not gonna put a timetable on it, but what I will say is Dave had a very significant injury, much more than just an ACL ... I thought he busted his tail to get back last season ... He did have another procedure in the offseason. We’re cautiously optimistic.”
When asked if he had any concern that Bakhtiari might not ever play again, Gutekunst was quick to say “no.”
OL Elgton Jenkins could return sooner than expected
“Elgton’s doing great. We’re excited, would like to get him back out there, hopefully that will be soon. He’s certainly ahead of schedule. When he gets out there, Elgton’s a unique guy who can line up at five spots. Once we get him out there and get down the road a little bit to see where (Bakhtiari is) at, we’ll start looking at where everybody’s going to line up.”
WR Sammy Watkins has a minor issue
“Sammy is a very short-term thing. We never want any guys to miss any time because it’s all valuable but I think you’ll see him out here pretty soon.”
WR Christian Watson had a procedure during the summer and his return date is TBD
“One of those things to come out of OTAs and there was kind of a thought process, ‘do we want to push through the season and finish this after the (2022) season or go ahead and do it now?’ and we just did it now. He’ll miss a little bit of time here in camp but it’s nothing long-term.”
“We’re not gonna put any timelines on it. He’s a young player, when we invest what we invested in Christian, we’re obviously looking out for the long term, we always do. He’s a young player who’s got a big career ahead of him so we want to make sure we protect that. It’ll really be how he responds through the rehab and as soon as he’s ready we’ll get him out there.”
Gutekunst is confident in WR Allen Lazard as he moves into a #1 role
“I’m excited what he can be for us kind of in a different role. Allen is a very confident guy. Every time we’ve given him opportunities, he’s produced. With these new opportunities, I’m excited to see him grow and develop. The sky’s the limit for him.”
New special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia has made a great early impression
“Having Rich here has been great. He’s brought a lot of juice, a lot of energy. The experience factor, when you’re doing it for as long as he’s done it, it’s something we’re all excited about.”