Packers' Bakhtiari says Week 2 absence due to injury, not turf

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari said he wasn't making a statement against artificial turf when he missed last Sunday's game at the Atlanta Falcons, adding that it will not influence whether he plays in the future.

Bakhtiari said his absence was simply the result of his chronically problematic left knee, which flared up again last week.

"If I wasn't going to play on turf, I'd probably make more of a ruckus," he said Wednesday.

Last week, Bakhtiari was outspoken against playing NFL games on artificial surfaces such as the FieldTurf that the Falcons have at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The comments were sparked by the torn Achilles that Aaron Rodgers suffered in his first game with the New York Jets.

Bakhtiari has not practiced since the regular season started. Including Wednesday, he has missed all eight practices beginning with the week of the season opener. However, he played in Week 1 against the Bears, registering a 94.4% win rate in pass protection, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

His status for Sunday's home opener against the New Orleans Saints remains unclear. This all stems from the torn ACL Bakhtiari suffered in his left knee on Dec. 31, 2020. He had three surgeries on that knee since the injury and has played in only 13 of a possible 36 regular-season games since the start of the 2021 season.

"When it comes to like my career and everything, you think with what I've done I'd want to not play?" Bakhtiari said. "I think anyone that alludes to that, that's funny. For me, it's pretty devastating. I think every game that goes by, I'm not getting any younger and what I want for my own personal self along with what I want to give to this franchise, it's tough."

The Packers have four more games on artificial turf this season: at the Lions, Giants, Panthers and Vikings. When asked if he will play in those games if he's healthy, Bakhtiari said: "Absolutely."

"I would never leave [teammates] hanging out to dry," he said. "I signed up to play. I plan on playing. And when I can play, I'm going to play. Clearly if I'm not playing, there's something going on. It's not like it's been a secret. It's something I've been battling with, and it's been s---ty. It's been weighing on me a lot. You think I don't want to play? You think I want to be a great football player and then just disappear? F--- no."

If Bakhtiari doesn't play Sunday, the Packers will be without the left side of their offensive line. Left guard Elgton Jenkins sprained the MCL in his left knee against the Falcons and will miss several games. Rasheed Walker started in place of Bakhtiari but split time with Yosh Nijman. Meanwhile, Royce Newman replaced Jenkins.

The Packers might consider moving right tackle Zach Tom to guard and then play Walker and Nijman at the two tackle spots against the Saints because LaFleur said he wants his "best five" on the field.