GREEN BAY – Matt LaFleur is still holding some cards close to his vest, but the Green Bay Packers coach offered an optimistic status for a handful of key players’ availability Sunday at Minnesota.
Tight end Robert Tonyan has been dropped from the injury report and will play, LaFleur said. Offensive linemen David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins are listed as questionable as they try to return from their torn ACLs, while top receiver Allen Lazard is doubtful because of an ankle injury.
LaFleur also said kicker Mason Crosby is ready for Sunday’s opener after missing most of camp with a knee injury that landed him on the physically unable to perform list.
Tonyan has participated in team reps for more than a week now, catching a pair of touchdowns in his first practice back last week. It’s been more than 10 months since his torn ACL last season at the Arizona Cardinals. If he’s able to return to the form he showed before injury, Tonyan will be a major addition to the Packers offense.
“I think he’s going to be as big a part of this as anybody in our offense as far as the passing game is concerned,” offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich said. “He’s a threat. He does a great job. He’s a really good route runner, got great hands, and really understands the nuances of getting open versus certain coverages. So I’m excited for him. We’ll see how it goes, but I think he’s going to have a good year.”
Bakhtiari did not practice Friday after participating in team reps throughout the week. LaFleur wouldn’t say why Bakhtiari missed Friday’s practice, but it was not a setback. The coach said he’s seen enough from his two-time All-Pro left tackle to believe he has a chance to play Sunday.
“Obviously the experience level plays a big part of that,” LaFleur said, “but I think we’ve seen just enough in his ability to go out there and move. He’s been looking pretty good.”
Jenkins practiced Friday, as he has all week. The Pro Bowl offensive lineman has not only been returning from his knee injury, but also a pectoral injury late in camp.
It’s unclear how long Lazard will be out. After Friday’s practice, Lazard said a defensive tackle stepped on him during practice, injuring his ankle.
“I can’t see past tomorrow,” Lazard said. “I’ll be straight though.”