bakhtiari photo 10-20

David Bakhtiari practiced for the first time since tearing the ACL in his left knee during a Dec. 31 practice.

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GREEN BAY — David Bakhtiari’s comeback was almost over immediately after it started — or so Aaron Rodgers wanted his friend and blindside protector to think.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback and his franchise left tackle drove back from practice together on Wednesday afternoon and, upon reaching the Lambeau Field loading dock in the customized “Aston Martin” golf cart Bakhtiari gave him this summer, Rodgers decided to get a little too close to the double wrought iron gate that rises and falls at the entrance.

“I may have tried to scare Dave a little bit with the nearness of the impending heavy gates coming down,” Rodgers said with a smirk. “But no, not really. Never in any danger, I don’t think.”

Bakhtiari, practicing for the first time since tearing the ACL in his left knee during a Dec. 31 practice, came out of the session similarly unscathed. Bakhtiari remains on the physically unable to perform list, but his participation in Wednesday’s practice begins a three-week window during which the five-time All-Pro can get ready for his return to the game field.

Bakhtiari is unlikely to play this Sunday against the Washington Football Team, but coach Matt LaFleur didn’t immediately rule out that possibility.

“It’s something that we’ll just take day by day,” LaFleur said.

But Bakhtiari’s mere presence at practice — since the start of training camp, he’s been doing individual rehabilitation work and drill work off to the side while his teammates went through actual practices — was significant, both in his journey back from the injury and just being around his guys again.

“It’s going to mean a lot,” wide receiver Davante Adams replied when asked what kind of impact Bakhtiari’s return will have once he can play in games. “Those guys (on the offensive line) have been doing a great job so far holding it down in his absence, but … he’s a captain basically for us.

“It will be huge having him back, leadership-wise, (plus) obviously what he brings on the field as well.”

Added Rodgers: “I mean, I see Dave every time. It’s good to hear him. He couldn’t keep his mouth shut today, which I guess is kind of normal, but it was good to have him out there in a helmet.”

Health watch

Cornerback Kevin King, who missed last Sunday’s win over the Bears with a shoulder injury suffered against Cincinnati the week before, practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday and might be back in the lineup against Washington.

Four other players did not practice at all, including three starters: center Josh Myers (knee), outside linebacker Preston Smith (oblique) and safety Darnell Savage (concussion). Backup tackle Dennis Kelly (back) also did not practice.

Although wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who has been on injured reserve for three games with a hamstring injury, was eligible to start practicing on Wednesday in preparation of being activated from IR, he did not. If he doesn’t participate in Thursday’s practice, that’s a near-certain sign he’ll be sidelined for at least another week — something Rodgers believes has short-circuited the offense’s downfield passing game.

“With ‘83’ not playing and with the (defenses) clouding Davante a bunch, we just haven’t had the same amount of opportunities,” Rodgers said.

Bird watching

Rodgers, taken aback by the amount of attention his “I still own you!” taunt at Chicago Bears fans has gotten since last Sunday’s game, was asked if fans giving him the middle finger is a common occurrence around the league or something that only happens at Soldier Field. Screen shots from the scene showed a host of fans giving Rodgers the same finger gesture, not just the woman he mentioned in his postgame news conference.

“It happens a lot of places, I think. Definitely not just Chicago,” Rodgers said. “There’s some other places we’ve been that have some rowdy fans. Philly, I think may be the best trash talkers.”

It may happen to Rodgers elsewhere, but it’s possible the one-finger salute is something only he gets on the Packers’ roster.

“I think more so it was Aaron in Chicago. That’s probably more so what it was. I don’t get too many ‘birds,’” Adams said. “I got flipped the bird a few times before, but when I look in the crowd a lot of times, especially on the road, I’m just blacking out anyway.

“I think that one was more because of where we were and who he is.”

Photos: Packers' 2021 season in pictures

Check out photo galleries from every game of 2021 from the preseason through the end of the regular season and the playoffs.

This article originally ran on madison.com.

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