When available, Packers LT David Bakhtiari looks elite again

The last three weeks sum up the David Bakhtiari experience at this point of the 2022 season: He’s still a borderline elite player when he’s available, but no one – not even Bakhtiari or the Green Bay Packers – really knows when he’s going to be available.

The five-time All-Pro sandwiched a surprise inactive in Week 7 against the Washington Commanders with excellent performances against the New York Jets in Week 6 and the Buffalo Bills in Week 8.

Per Pro Football Focus, Bakhtiari has allowed just a single pressure (a hurry) and didn’t have a penalty over 89 pass-blocking snaps during his last two games. He faced a mixture of Carl Lawson, Gregory Rousseau, Von Miller and AJ Epenesa in those games.

Between Weeks 6-8, Bakhtiari earned the second-highest overall grade among NFL offensive linemen at PFF. And he hasn’t just been dominant in the passing game; his run-blocking grade over that three-week span is the fourth-best among offensive linemen.

It took a few games to knock off the rust but it’s increasingly clear that Bakhtiari can still play at a high level – close or equal to his previous elite levels – when he’s on the field.

There’s just an unsettling cloud of uncertainty regarding his availability. Even Bakhtiari has admitted that he doesn’t know how his knee is going to feel day to day. In Week 7, he woke up on the Saturday before the game and felt discomfort, and the knee didn’t feel right during a pre-game workout session, so he went from no injury designation on Friday afternoon to not playing on Sunday.

It’s a bit of a rollercoaster ride for everyone involved. When he’s out there, the Packers are getting elite play. But there’s always the looming possibility of him not being out there.

The effect of Bakhtiari’s uncertain availability has only been compounded by other injuries along the offensive line, including the unexpected foot injury suffered by Elgton Jenkins last week. The Packers have had to continuously shuffle through different offensive line combinations in an effort to find the right five and fill in gaps for injured players. In Week 7, rookie Zach Tom needed to play left tackle in a pinch because Matt LaFleur and Adam Stenavich reconfigured the entire offensive line that week.

Bakhtiari didn’t practice on Wednesday. The Packers are still trying to find the best mix of practice time and rest time for the knee on a week-to-week basis. At this point, there might not be a magic formula for keeping him available.

Everyone knows the Packers are better when Bakhtiari is on the field. He’s an elite player at a premium position. Performances over the past three weeks prove he can still play the left tackle position at an All-Pro level. Now, Bakhtiari and the Packers just have keep their fingers crossed that his surgically-repaired knee cooperates for the final nine games of 2022.

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire