Packers confident in offensive line depth as David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins inch closer toward return

As of Aug. 10, the Packers are missing their top two offensive linemen. It's not ideal, but it also might not be for long.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst told reporters Wednesday he's encouraged by the progress made by David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins, but won't yet set a date for their returns.

"No timelines right now. They're both doing really, really well," Gutekunst said. "I think they both have a shot to play early in the season. But we're not going to put any timelines on it.

"If we get down to that point, where we think that's the best thing for the football team, to keep them on (the physically unable to perform list), we will. But they're progressing really well."

Bakhtiari missed all but 27 snaps last season while dealing with a recurring knee issue that required another procedure this offseason. Jenkins, meanwhile, is still making his way back from a torn ACL suffered during the 2021 campaign.

The injuries forced Green Bay to adjust on the fly last season, replacing Bakhtiari with Jenkins, and eventually, Yosh Nijman. Lucas Patrick and Jon Runyan each spent time at left guard in place of Jenkins, and once the latter was lost to the ACL injury, Nijman stepped in at left tackle.

The downside to this situation is Green Bay doesn't have two premier linemen available. But Gutekunst sees a positive element in the adversity Green Bay faced up front last season.

"I know we've had a lot of confidence in those guys," Gutekunst said. "They are young players but those guys have had pretty significant game experience, Yosh, Runyan and (Royce) Newman. Josh (Myers) got a lot of work last year as a rookie.

"I like the depth of our group, and certainly getting those two All-Pro guys back certainly changes things a little bit and I'm confident those guys will get there. But even without those guys, I really like how those guys are working. They've got a tough test everyday with the group they're going against and that's only going to make them better as we head into the season."

Bakhtiari has remained around the team, biking to practice while wearing a T-shirt jersey, shorts and a leg sleeve covering his affected knee. He's just not quite ready to return to full participation, forcing the Packers to again prepare for his absence for a second straight season.

There's still time left for Bakhtiari and Jenkins to progress closer toward a return. Green Bay isn't being foolish, though, instead playing it safe by not rushing either back to the field. Their replacements will have a full camp's worth of preparation.

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