The ACL gods have not been kind to the Packers in recent years. Following David Bakhtiari’s devastating injury on the eve of the 2020 playoffs, three more Packers were struck down with knee injuries in a four-game span during the 2021 season.
Those injuries ruled Robert Tonyan, Kylin Hill and Elgton Jenkins out for the remainder of the 2021 campaign, and also placed a chunk of their 2022 season into doubt.
It is nearly impossible to predict when an athlete will return from a torn ACL or any other serious knee ailment, as the timetable for each individual may be vastly different, but there is some historical precedent which could provide a rough idea of when Tonyan, Hill and Jenkins might be back.
A 2019 study published in the National Library of Medicine found the average time between the reconstruction of an ACL and a return to the field among NFL players to be 49.7 weeks. So, where would that put Green Bay’s three recovering players?
Tonyan and Hill suffered their injuries during the same game; the Packers’ victory over the Arizona Cardinals on October 29, 2021.
A 49-50-week recovery would mean the pair being available to suit up in week four or five of the 2022 season, against either the New England Patriots or the New York Giants in London. In this case, Tonyan and Hill would have missed Green Bay’s matchups with the Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Jenkins’ injury occurred on November 21, 2021 against the Vikings, and he is therefore likely to miss more games than Tonyan and Hill. An average recovery time for Jenkins would mean a return in week eight or nine against either the Buffalo Bills or Detroit Lions, having missed games against the Vikings, Bears, Buccaneers, Patriots, Giants, Jets and Commanders.
Of course, this is just a rough outline, and there have been several instances of players returning miraculously quickly from ACL injuries in recent years, as well as issues leading to longer recovery periods for some.
Speaking of which, Bakhtiari’s comeback from injury has been a nightmare, and the news he was only working with the rehab group at Green Bay’s recent OTA’s has many fans nervous 17 months after he went down.
While it would have been much more encouraging to see Bakhtiari full go at OTA’s, there is no real information to go on with regard to his situation, so there’s no point panicking or speculating at this stage.
There have been reports Tonyan could be back by the start of the 2022 season, but expect the Packers to take every precaution to ensure all its injured players are absolutely ready to play before thrusting them back into action.
Green Bay should make the playoffs regardless of Tonyan, Hill and Jenkins being available for a portion of the season, so there is no need to rush any of them back and risk losing Tonyan and Jenkins specifically for the playoffs.
Hill’s injury could mean an increased chance of either Patrick Taylor or Tyler Goodson making the 53-man roster out of training camp, and if Tonyan has to start the 2022 season on the PUP list, it could delay a tough roster decision in a crowded tight end room also containing Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara, Tyler Davis and Dominique Dafney.
At this point it would be a shock if Jenkins doesn’t start season on PUP, so Bakhtiari’s availability will be crucial to holding an otherwise young offensive line together in the early part of the season. The training camp battle between a host of potential tackle options in Yosh Nijman, Royce Newman, Sean Rhyan, Zach Tom and Rasheed Walker will be fascinating.