By Chris Havel
Special to Event USA
Kramer’s HOF induction in Canton, Bakhtiari’s injury tops the headlines
GREEN BAY, Wis. – How great was Jerry Kramer? How good is David Bakhtiari?
Home game tickets and packages.
Road game packages. We’ve got it all!
GRAB YOUR SPOT NOW! >>
Dyed-in-the-wool Packers’ fans know, to be sure, but even they got a reminder Saturday night.
On the same day Kramer was delivering his long-overdue acceptance speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Bakhtiari was being carted off Lambeau Field with a left ankle injury sustained late in the team’s Family Night practice.
Just as Kramer was pivotal in the Packers’ success in the 1960s, Bakhtiari’s pass-blocking is a key to the team’s fortunes today.
Who says offensive linemen are taken for granted?
They aren’t by the Packers’ fans that showed their support for Kramer and concern for Bakhtiari.
Fortunately, it appears Bakhtiari will be ready for the Packers’ Sept. 9 season-opener, according to an ESPN report.
Packers’ left guard Lane Taylor told ESPN: “I think (Bakhtiari) said he got his foot caught underneath him. Not 100-percent sure, but I’m sure he’ll be fine. I’m sure he’ll ice it, evaluate it tomorrow. I’m not a doctor, so … hope he’s OK. I feel like it’ll be alright.”
If Bakhtiari’s injury is indeed minor, as sources say, this may not be an altogether bad thing.
It all but eliminates the possibility of another injury for Bakhtiari between now and the Chicago Bears’ opener.
Also, the Packers’ depth at tackle is thin.
Bakhtiari’s rest and rehab will give players such as Kyle Murphy, Jason Spriggs and Byron Bell more reps in practice and in the preseason games, beginning Thursday night.
Murphy, it appears, is first up behind Bakhtiari at left tackle. That makes sense given that he was ahead of Spriggs last season before being injured. Spriggs is trying to hold on at right tackle, while Bell is a salty veteran who can get a team through in case of an emergency.
The Packers received good news earlier in the week when starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga was cleared to practice. Bulaga, who is coming off a serious knee injury, looked good during individual drills last week. Bulaga had a scheduled day off Saturday, but his return couldn’t come soon enough.
Bulaga sustained a torn ACL in the 2013 Family Night Scrimmage, which was the last “scrimmage” and likely led Packers head coach Mike McCarthy to alter the format.
Receiver Randall Cobb left Friday’s practice early and didn’t return. He watched Family Night practice from the sideline. Apparently, he is experiencing normal soreness in his surgically-repaired right ankle, but should be OK with rest.
Elsewhere sore hamstrings outnumbered tweaked ankles, 4-3. Trevor Davis, Davante Mays, Aaron Jones and C.J. Johnson sat with sore hamstrings, while Kentrell Brice, Nick Perry and Cobb were out with ankle injuries.
Mike Daniels also sat due to a sore quad muscle.
Offensively, Davante Adams looked to be in mid-season form while mammoth Marcedes Lewis – touted for his blocking – made a nifty one-handed catch look easy.
Rookie receivers J’Mon Moore (who made a terrific 5-yard touchdown catch) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling each had drops, while Equanimeous St. Brown also impressed.
Of the rookie receivers, Moore remains my favorite to make the 53-man roster, although Valdes-Scantling (special teams) and former UW-Whitewater receiver Jake Kumerow are making strong bids to carve out a niche.
Kumerow has connections to the Packers: He was recruited to the University of Illinois by special teams coach Ron Zook out of high school. When Zook was fired, Kumerow transferred to UW-Whitewater, where he won two NCAA Division II titles.
As for Kramer’s big weekend at Canton, I couldn’t be more pleased for one of the Packers’ all-time greats.
I recall interviewing Kramer in The FAN studios during my radio show a few years back. At the time, several NFL players were in the headlines for unlawful off-the-field behavior.
When I groaned about it, and asked Kramer for his opinion, he said, “What I look at isn’t the few who screw up, it’s the majority who do it the right way. How would any of us fare if we were handed a pile of money at 21? What always impresses me is that the vast majority of players handle their business.
“Sometimes we focus too much on the negative, and not all the positives that are going on around us.”
From Kramer’s induction to Bakhtiari’s injury and subsequent good news, Saturday night was a gentle reminder of the offensive line’s importance to the Packers past and present.