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The Green Bay Packers are 12-3 heading into Week 17 of the 2021 season. This is not just the best record in the NFC but in the entire NFL this season. Despite a rash of big-name injuries, Aaron Rodgers has led his team to the top of the heap this season, and, this week, he explained an interesting fashion choice he made in the last game designed to honor one of his fallen teammates, offensive lineman David Bakhtiari.

The Green Bay Packers are the No. 1 team in the NFC despite major injuries

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers celebrates a touchdown run with David Bakhtiari in the 2nd quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lambeau Field on November 15, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
David Bakhtiari and Aaron Rodgers | Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images.

Anytime a team has the best record in the NFL, it’s impressive. It’s downright amazing when a team gets it despite the losses of boldfaced names at key positions.

That’s where Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers find themselves as they approach the end of the 2021 season.

The squad has played all season without All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari. He is still recovering from an ACL tear he suffered exactly one year ago, on New Year’s Eve 2020. The O-line is also missing rookie center Josh Myers (knee), who admirably replaced an offseason loss, All-Pro Corey Linsley. And reliable right tackle Billy Turner (knee) hasn’t played since Week 13.

Also on offense, veteran wideout Randall Cobb (core) — who Rodgers campaigned to get back in the offseason — hasn’t played since Week 12.

On the defensive side of the ball, the MASH unit is just as bad.

The two major injuries on D are to Pro Bowl DE Za’Darius Smith (back) and Pro Bowl CB Jaire Alexander (shoulder), who haven’t played since Week 1 and Week 4, respectively.

Although the Packers keep rolling without these crucial players, it doesn’t mean that the team (and Rodgers) don’t miss them on the field and off. Rodgers shared as much this week with Pat McAfee.

Aaron Rodgers wore David Bakhtiari socks to honor his injured teammate

While Aaron Rodgers surely feels the Green Bay Packers’ losses on defense on some level and definitely feels the loss of Randall Cobb and his offensive linemen, the absence that affects him most is David Bakhtiari.

It’s such a significant loss for the defending MVP (and 2021 MVP candidate) that Rodgers wore socks with his left tackle’s picture on them during his record-breaking win over the Cleveland Browns on Christmas Day.

During his weekly guest appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, the host asked Rodgers about the socks. The QB was glad he did.

He shared that no one had asked him about them yet, but there were some things he wanted to discuss about the fashion choice.

The signal-caller explained that Bakhtiari dared him to wear the socks. The tackle also agreed to pay Rodgers’ fine if the NFL came down on him for rocking the unauthorized footwear. Then, he also shared the more sentimental reason for the tribute:

I also wore them — not just because I love Dave and he’s a troll — but I wanted Dave to be out there with me. Like, from a sentimental standpoint. He’s been such an important part of my success. And he’s been such a rock at left tackle for so long. It felt good having those on. One, because it’s something different, and Dave didn’t think I would do it. But two, because I really care about Dave a lot, and it felt like he was out there with me on the field even though he hasn’t played this year. But I wanted him out there with me when I broke the record.

Aaron Rodgers on David Bakhtiari

It was a special acknowledgment from Rodgers and showed the softer side of the QB, which, oftentimes, is hard to find when the outspoken signal-caller gets on one of his rants, as he did later in the show.

The Packers could be getting healthy at just the right time


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The way Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are playing this season without some of their best players and biggest names should already scare the NFL. The fact that they might be getting a bunch of these guys back come playoff time should truly terrify NFL teams.

Randall Cobb and Jaire Alexander have returned to practice, and there is a chance both could play before the regular season is over.

As far as the other players go, it looks like the second round of the playoffs (if Green Bay gets the NFC bye) is the earliest they could play. The Packers are not ruling David Bakhtiari, Josh Meyers, Billy Turner, or Za’Darius Smith out for the season.

Sports Illustrated reports that Smith and Bakhtiari are “stuck in neutral,” but there’s still a chance we see them in the playoffs. Packers beat reporter Ryan Wood tweeted, “Matt LaFleur says ‘there’s a chance’ Josh Myers could eventually come off IR. No timeline given,” and “RT Billy Turner is ‘working through everything’ and the team will see where he’s at Wednesday.”

The Packers will already be one of the toughest outs in the 2021 postseason. If they can get healthy too, as the games get more important, watch out. A fully healthy Packers team could cruise to a date with an AFC squad in Los Angeles on Feb. 13, 2022.

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