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Packers LT David Bakhtiari (knee) comes off PUP list: 'It's been the journey that I've had to attack'

Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) was activated off the physically unable to perform list and participated in individual drills Sunday.

Both Bakhtiari and head coach Matt LaFleur chose to take a day-by-day approach rather than make any proclamations about the two-time All-Pro's availability for the beginning of the regular season.

"We're going to take it a day at a time," LaFleur said, per the Associated Press. "There's no thought as far as Week 1 is concerned right now. We just want to see how he responds. And when he's ready, he's ready."

From a team vantage point, Bakhtiari is the fourth big-name player to come off PUP in a week's time. Last Sunday, offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins, tight end Robert Tonyan and second-round wide receiver Christian Watson were all cleared to practice.

All four figure to be big contributors -- if healthy -- to Green Bay's run at a fourth consecutive NFC North title.

On a personal level, Bakhtiari's clearance from the PUP list provides a degree of optimism to a journey back from injury that has been riddled with setbacks.

Bakhtiari tore his ACL in practice on Dec. 31, 2020, a month-and-a-half after signing a four-year contract extension.

He spent the next year recovering and did not return until the regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions. He played 27 snaps in that game, providing hope that he would be able to contribute to the top-seeded Packers' playoff run -- at least on a rotational basis -- but he suffered a setback and did not take the field in Green Bay's Divisional Round loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

"I was extremely grateful and had my own personal moments the first time I came back because it was awesome," Bakhtiari told reporters following Sunday's practice. "It's just tough when it gets taken from you 'cause it's not by your choice. That was something that I had a hard time giving up, basically my knee saying no. This time now, I realize that I cannot control as much as I want to. I like to be in control of my destiny and it's just more like, 'Hey, what are you feeling like today, knee? How are you doing? You holding up well? Cool, we're in this together, man.'"

Seven months removed from that setback and 19 months out from the original injury, Bakhtiari is taking the important next step to returning to the field and returning to form.

If he's able to shake off the rust as he continues to manage his knee throughout the season, Bakhtiari's eventual comeback promises to make the Packers' running game and two-time defending MVP Aaron Rodgers that much more dangerous.

Bakhtiari knows those stakes, and he's looking forward to coming out the other side to face them.

"It's been the journey that I've had to attack, and I just know that I'm not gonna break no matter what," Bakhtiari said. "I know what I'm capable of and what I'm going to do. Whenever that moment that gives me that solace and that peace when I get to go back out there and play, I'm just excited."

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