Bakhtiari, Jenkins, Tonyan, Watson and Crosby. That short list of players contains a lot of offensive horsepower for the Green Bay Packers. If all of these players and Aaron Rodgers are healthy for the first game of the season the Packers would be an easy choice for any pundit to pick to win the NFC North. Sure, there are still questions concerning the Packers Adams-less wide receivers and how much the defense may miss Za’darius Smith, but any smart better would feel most comfortable putting their greenbacks down on the Green and Gold.
With the news that Bakhtiari is joining Jenkins, Watson, Crosby and Tonyan on the PUP, any reasonable Packer fan has to be concerned. Bakhtiari first injured his knee on December 31, 2020. For an injury that usually takes 9-12 months, it is now obvious that the recovery has not gone to plan. Bakhtiari, Jenkins and Tonyan made for an impressive run-pass combination when lined up side by side. After losing Lucas Patrick, Billy Turner, and Dennis Kelly in free agency the health of these three PUP players is the difference between an offensive line with solid all-pros that puts fear into opponents or a line full of rookies and first-time full-time starters with minimal experience. The Bears and Vikings will be chomping at their collective bits to face a front line of Yosh Nijman, Jon Runyan, Josh Meyers, Royce Newman, Cole Van Lanen or one of the Packers’ late round 2022 draft picks and DeGuara at tight end.
For Watson, a small college receiver who needs to learn the full NFL route tree, the injury needs to heal quickly for him to contribute to the offense. He has a history of missing college games due to both hamstring and knee injuries. Hamstring strain risks can increase if a player has a history of that injury. Watson was late in signing his contract so if there was an injury the Packers should have had knowledge.
The good news concerning the PUP list is that any of these players could be activated any time. And, taking every precaution with All Pro tackles is a prudent course. Until activation occurs, Packer fans will be watching every practice and preseason game watching the new kids on the offensive line block, hoping there are two more All Pros in the currently unproven offensive line roster.
All of this makes LaFleur’s first press conference a must hear event.