Matt LaFleur admitted that his starting left tackle didn’t like the idea, but the Green Bay Packers coach didn’t want to overwhelm David Bakhtiari in his first game of the 2022 season.
LaFleur rotated Bakhtiari in and out at left tackle on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, using Yosh Nijman – the starter the first two games – to spell him every other series.
Bakhtiari, a five-time All-Pro, was making just his second overall start since suffering a significant knee injury on Dec. 31 of 2020.
LaFleur pointed to the hot weather in Tampa, the fact Bakhtiari hasn’t played a full game in two years and the overall play of Nijman as primary reasons why he used both players at left tackle on Sunday.
“Just trying to keep (David) available for the whole game,” LaFleur said following the Packers’ 14-12 win. “We didn’t want to go zero to 60 with him in regards to, OK, here’s a guy who hasn’t played a lot – outside of that Detroit game – hasn’t played in almost two years. Do you load him up with 60 plays in a game? We didn’t think that was the right thing to do. And Yosh has done a great job as well. So it’s a credit to Yosh.”
Bakhtiari started the game at left tackle but he split the offensive’s 12 drives with Nijman.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he thought the pass protection was good, especially against a talented Buccaneers front, and he felt both left tackles handled their business.
LaFleur wasn’t ready to commit to anything for next week, meaning a rotation could still be in play when the Packers host the New England Patriots next Sunday.
“We’ll see how his knee responds to the load that was put on him today, and we’ll make a decision that we feel is in the best interest of us as a football team moving forward,” LaFleur said.
Last season, Bakhtiari played 27 in the first half against the Detroit Lions in the season finale. His knee didn’t respond well and he missed the Packers’ playoff loss to the 49ers.
On Sunday, Bakhtiari played 34 snaps, per Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. The Packers played 61 offensive snaps total against the Bucs.