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Bakhtiari Acquits Himself Well in Debut as Packers Left Tackle

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Bakhtiari Acquits Himself Well in Debut as Packers Left Tackle

Packers offensive lineman David Bakhtiari. Photo by Brian Carriveau of

Following the Packers' preseason-opening loss to the Arizona Cardinals, rookie offensive lineman David Bakhtiari was put in a difficult position.

His team had just been shutout 17-0 and, truth be told, played rather poorly. But the Packers' new left tackle was a breath of fresh air.

There's little more Bakhtiari could have done in his professional debut in a game environment, but he had to play the role of good soldier and toe the company line.

"There's a difference between being cocky and being confident," said Bakhtiari on Friday evening following the game. "So I just take the game as a confidence booster and know that there's room to improve and definitely not say that 'I'm there,' because I hope to never say 'I'm there.' There's always something more I can do. I'll come in tomorrow and see what I need to work on and improve on."

When Bryan Bulaga was lost for the season in a knee injury sustained in the team's intra-squad scrimmage a week ago, they gave the first-year player out of Colorado the first crack at replacing him.

It showed a lot of trust to be giving an inexperienced a mid-round draft choice the responsibility of protecting the backside of the highest-paid player in the NFL, but in one game, Bakhtiari looked the part.

"I didn't get touched tonight," said Rodgers. "We had a few dropbacks, I think five attempts. I'm sure he was pretty good over there. It's good when you're not worried about him, and tonight I wasn't worried about him. He's a confident kid. I think he's got a bright future for us. For him it's about experience and going against good pass rushers, and next week will be a good challenge with those guys down in St. Louis."

No doubt about it, Bakhtari can't be penciled for All-Rookie honors after just one exhibition game, but he passed his first test with flying colors.

If there was anything to nitpick about the left tackle's performance, it's that he's still a work-in-progress as a run blocker. He's incredibly athletic and can get to the second level of the defense even better than Marshall Newhouse––who's best qualities include his nimble feet––but Bakhtiari had trouble sustaining blocks in the ground game.

Such was the case on the third play from scrimmage when defensive end Matt Shaughnessy bounced off a block by Bakhtiari and chipped in on a tackle of James Starks on a run off left tackle.

But the reality of the situation is that left tackles, especially in prolific passing offense like Green Bay's, make their money pass blocking.

And despite the uneven performance of the Packers offense outside of the first drive of the game in which the first-string drove for 86 yards, Bakhtiari kept Rodgers and backup Graham Harrell off the turf.

"Today we felt good," said Bakhtiari. "(The defense) didn't call anything, they didn't show anything that was alarming where I was like, 'Josh (Sitton), what are we doing? What are we doing?' Everything felt pretty good. It felt pretty slow. It was a nice, smooth transition ... so I didn't feel too many jitters or brain farts."

Among the most impressive aspects of Bakhtiari's performance was his ability to play out on an island, kicking and sliding in pass protection like a seasoned pro.

Not a single time did a running back or a tight end have to chip in to assist the rookie. On several occasions running backs were deployed to help in pass blocking, but never did Bakhtiari need their aid.

Over the course of the evening, Bakhtiari went up against the likes of Calais Campbell, Lorenzo Alexander and Ronald Talley of the Cardinals, and the young offensive lineman pitched a shutout of his own.

Bakhtiari played the entire first half of the game, but didn't see the field in the second half. While he's aware he got off to a good start, he also knows there are bigger and longer tests that lie ahead.

"I went out there with a purpose," said Bakhtiari. "I've been getting a lot of media attention lately with the buzz of me moving up and battling with Marshall on the right side and then now with the tragic event with Bulaga and now with this whole, me starting at left tackle ... it comes with great responsibility.

"So I went out there with something more to prove, because you can do stuff in practice, and I can tell you guys whatever you guys want to hear. But at the end of the day, it's what's out there that's the most important thing that I'm going to be judged on, not only by my peers, by the fans, but by my coaches and the organization in and of itself. It was good, I was happy, but I need to know that I have to move on. It was a great first game, but I'm on the second game. I got to start preparing, getting ready, and I have to go prove myself for that."

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (13) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

some guy's picture

dude is a stud. you can see it, so natural in space. His ceiling is so, so high.

just one game but he has all the tools.

Ct Sharpe Cheddar's picture

fast feet what you need at left tackle

nick perry's picture

We'll find out a lot more this week in the 1st few series. These guys in St. Louis, in that dome get after the QB. I hope David continues his success, he has the tools it seems. I for one am wondering where all those that said Ted T drafted another small undersized tackle in April after the draft. The dude is 6'4" 300 lbs. Are you really serious in calling him small? He has the feet of a left tackle. Read Mike Maylocks top 100 draft prospects. He was #82, not bad for a 4th round pick.

packsmack25's picture

#BAKHTIARI MANIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BZ in BA's picture

I'm impressed - both with him, and with TT for picking him in the 4th. What a steal! If the guy turns out to be a keeper, meaning a legitimate starter at the critical T position, we are going to have the cheapest pair of starting Tackles in the league, which means we should be able to hold on to Raji.

ben's picture

not raji. jolly, shields, neal,& eds. house, cobb, & alex green next year. that's right, alex green

nick perry's picture

Green is gone! If they can't trade him, he'll be cut. It's just like the Bishop deal. Ted couldn't trade him so he ended up being cut. Same thing goes for Green. Did you know Alex Green didn't break a single tackle last year. With this years picks, no room for a guy that can't find a hole unless it's 5 feet wide and then he'll still make the wrong cut, right into a defender.

Stroh's picture

Bahktiari was a good pick up in the 4th round no doubt. But lets not go overboard here. He probably only played a handful of snaps against Campbell, the rest of the guys he faced were a collection of relative stiffs to be honest. He looked good but it appears, from this aricle, he'll be similar to Newhouse. Good pass blocker, who doesn't finish his blocks in the run game. Other articles have pointed out he was finishing better, but it remains to be seen who/what he is at LT.

At most he'll likely be a slight upgrade from Newhouse, as you would expect given he was drafted and rated slightly higher. Just way to early to say for sure.

xuyee's picture

Doesn't he also routinely stone CM3 in practice? He's not Clifton yet, but is already way ahead of pre-injury Sherrod who never contended for a starting spot in his rookie year.

Derek in CO's picture

Got new for you, Newhouse isn't that good of a pass blocker either. He's a backup.

Stroh's picture

He got a positive rating last year for his pass blocking by PFF. He's not a great pass blocker, but he's good. Run blocking is where Newhouse stuggles the most.

Jay's picture

Nickname: the Bahkt-man

Johnny's picture

I think Bakhtiari's deficiencies in the run game is just a matter or nailing down his technique. He struggles to get his helmet on the defenders opposite shoulder to effectively seal off and move the defender.

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