GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers has played behind rookie tackles before.
He did it in 2010 and again last season, but with two important distinctions: Both times (first with Bryan Bulaga and then with Don Barclay) it was a right tackle, where he could keep an eye on the goings on, and both times it was a mid-season adjustment.
So if Rodgers has a little more trepidation about rookie David Bakhtiari as the team’s starting left tackle, it’s understandable.
“Left tackle is obviously a little different, especially when you think about the kind of guys that can get put on that side,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “Look at our division and then some of the early games, there’s usually a tough guy at that position rushing on my backside against every team. (That’s usually) the best pass rusher, and you need a lineman who can hold up. Obviously, we believe David.”
The fourth-round pick from Colorado has been tabbed to protect Rodgers’ blindside. He replaced Bulaga, who was moved to left tackle this offseason but will undergo season-ending knee surgery after he sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Saturday’s scrimmage.
Many teams move around their pass rushers depending on matchups, so it’s a good bet Bakhtiari will see plenty of the top pass rushers on the Packers’ schedule, starting with Week 1 in San Francisco 49ers’ All-Pro Aldon Smith (19.5 sacks last season). Two of the other three NFC North teams feature pass rushers who had double-digit sacks last season, Minnesota’s Jared Allen (12) and Chicago’s Julius Peppers (10.5).
When asked how concerned he was about starting a rookie at left tackle, Packers general manager said: “It’s happened before here. I’m sure it’s happened a lot of places. It is what it is.”
The Packers started a rookie at left tackle for most of the 1997 season, when they made to Super Bowl XXXI.