After Family Night ankle injury scare, David Bakhtiari says he’ll be ‘good’
GREEN BAY — The thumbs-up emoji said it all.
After putting a scare into his Green Bay Packers coaches, teammates and fans by leaving the team’s annual Family Night practice at Lambeau Field Saturday evening with a left ankle injury, David Bakhtiari had good news Sunday morning: He escaped serious injury.
“I’ll be good,” Bakhtiari said via iMessage Sunday morning, adding the thumbs-up emoji for confirmation.
The franchise left tackle came off the field during a team period late in the accelerated practice and could be seen walking along the sideline gingerly before being examined by team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie and the medical staff.
At one point, Bakhtiari was on the bench surrounded by McKenzie, head athletic trainer Bryan Engel and veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who was activated from the physically unable to perform list on Friday but did not participate in the practice Saturday night.
There appeared to be more reason for concern when McKenzie had him remove his shoe and sock for further examination before one of the athletic trainers took Bakhtiari to the locker room on a medical cart.
Bakhtiari rode in the passenger seat — instead of on the flatbed in the back, as linebacker Jake Ryan had when he was carted off Ray Nitschke Field after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during Monday’s practice — and his teammates expressed hope afterward that the injury was nothing more than a run-of-the-mill sprained ankle.
“That’s my boy. I don’t want to see him get hurt, banged up or anything. (But) I feel like it’ll be all right,” said left guard Lane Taylor, who has lined up next to Bakhtiari the past two seasons. “I think he said he got his foot caught underneath him. Not 100 percent sure, but I’m sure he’ll be fine.”
Bakhtiari won’t practice Monday when the team returns to work and appears unlikely to play in Thursday night’s preseason opener against Tennessee at Lambeau Field. An NFL source said the team will be careful with him in the coming weeks, but given that Bakhtiari is in his sixth NFL season, he shouldn’t need too much preseason work to be ready for the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against Chicago.
Nevertheless, Bakhtiari leaving on a cart created flashbacks to the 2013 Family Night, when Bulaga — having been moved to left tackle after playing on the right side his first three seasons — suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during a goal-line play late in the scrimmage. With Bulaga out for the year, Bakhtiari, a rookie fourth-round pick, got the call to replace him and has been the team’s starting left tackle ever since.
That also marked the last time there was any live tackling during Family Night, which went from being a scrimmage to being a regular practice the following year.
“In Family Night, you never want to see dudes get nicked up,” Bulaga said. “Unfortunately, I’ve been on that end of the spectrum, so I understand it.”
After Bakhtiari departed Saturday night, Kyle Murphy took over at left tackle. Murphy started three games last season — one at right tackle for Bulaga and two at left tackle for Bakhtiari — before suffering a season-ending foot injury. He’ll likely start at left tackle against the Titans.
“(I’ve) just got to be ready to take reps whenever,” Murphy said. “Dave got nicked up a little bit, but (it’s) probably not too bad. Tough guy. (But) it’s always next man up.”