One of the most surprising players to become an every-down contributor for the 2023 Green Bay Packers is tackle Rasheed Walker, who played just four special teams snaps as a rookie last season. Coming into training camp this summer, the expectation was that Walker, at best, was going to be fourth on the depth chart at tackle behind left tackle David Bakhtiari and Zach Tom and Yosh Nijman, who were expected to compete for the right tackle job. Since then, Bakhtiari has been shut down again with a knee complication, and after Walker beat Nijman out for the swing tackle gig, the second-year bookend has now found himself starting on quarterback Jordan Love’s blindside.
Walker has now started the last three games at left tackle and the assumption is that he’ll remain the starter for the rest of the year, as Bakhtiari reportedly will not make his return until 2024. On Monday, head coach Matt LaFleur and offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich, who previously served as the team’s offensive line coach, praised Walker after reviewing the film of the team’s loss to the Detroit Lions.
“I think, for the most part, he’s done a pretty good job,” said LaFleur. “I think there’s, certainly, things that he needs to clean up. I think that for a guy going out there and not quite sure, I thought he’s held up pretty well. I anticipate him to continue to get better. The more he plays, the better he should get.”
“He’s been good. There’s some bad in there too. Some things we have to correct,” added Stenavich. “Just focusing on being fundamentally sound is his biggest issue, but I love how he competes. I love how he comes off the ball. There’s a lot of good in what he’s doing, so I think we just gotta keep working with him and hone up those details.”
When Stenavich was asked if Walker has the skillset to hang at left tackle, a position that generally is composed of first-round picks around the league, he replied, “He’s very athletic. He plays well in space. He’s aggressive, good in the run game. I think he’s got a chance to be a solid player [at left tackle].”
Officially, the Packers haven’t come out and said that Walker is going to be their left tackle for the remainder of the season, but it’s been heavily implied. Stenavich did continue to preach that the team will attempt to field a lineup of their best five available offensive linemen on a week-to-week basis, but that question was directed in the direction of Green Bay’s struggles on the interior offensive line — not at tackle. LaFleur was given an opportunity to say that Bakhtiari was out for the rest of the 2023 season on Monday, but he deferred to Bakhtiari, who apparently wants to make a statement to the media later in the week.