Entering training camp with your two projected starting offensive tackles on the physically unable to perform list is never a good sign. There’s no way to sugarcoat that. That said, the way the Green Bay Packers have performed since the team dropped offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins from the roster yesterday shows how optimistic they are about resolving their tackle issues in the near future.
Jenkins, who tore his ACL against the Minnesota Vikings last November, made a miraculous recovery and was able to return to the active roster in a full nine months. Almost immediately, the team began feeding him looks that correlate with him playing right tackle, however, head coach Matt LaFleur downplayed what the activation of Jenkins, receiver Christian Watson and tight end Robert Tonyan, who were activated on Sunday. the short term.
When Jenkins took the field Sunday, it looked like he was preparing to become a right tackle in the future. Former Packers tackle Mark Tauscher stated on Twitter that he agreed with the local consensus on the issue.
Before Jenkins’ addition, Green Bay worked two offensive line rotations, with the only difference being right guard and tackle:
- Yosh Nijman-Jon Runyan Jr.-Josh Myers-Jake Hanson-Royce Newman (from left to right)
- Nijman-Runyan-Myers-Newman-Zach Tom
On Monday, one tour before the team has joint practices against the New Orleans Saints, the Packers had Jenkins play right tackle in the team appearance with Newman at right guard. Over the past two days, the Packers have been playing with Tom, a rookie fourth-round pick, seeing representatives at left guard to push Runyan. LaFleur stated at Monday’s pre-practice news conference that the team is trying to add as much competition as possible to as many positions as possible when asked why Tom, who has played primarily left and right tackle this camp, lined up as guard with “the ones” on Sunday.
Oddly, though, the one position the team isn’t really trying out, despite the uncertainty over David Bakhtiari’s return, is left tackle. Nijman has held the job since quarterback Aaron Rodgers returned to the team in minicamp.
Bakhtiari, the team’s projected starting left tackle when healthy, is still on the physically unable to perform list following his season-ending ACL tear in 2020. During the telecast of the team’s preseason opener Packers, Bakhtiari confirmed he has had three knee surgeries. , one after his injury, one during the season last year and one this off season. Bakhtiari was activated out of the PUP last November, only to play the Detroit Lions in Week 18 for the first half of what amounted to a preseason game for a Packers team that had already clinched the top seed in the NFC.
After that game, the expectation was that Bakhtiari, who withdrew from the Lions game, would play in the Packers’ postseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round, but Bakhtiari’s knee swelling never stopped and Billy Turner (left) and Dennis Kelly (right) ended up starting as the team’s bookends over Nijman, who, like Jenkins, began half the season at left tackle. Turner was released by the team this offseason while Kelly’s contract with the team expired, leaving Nijman the only healthy player on the Packers’ 2022 roster with experience as a starting left tackle on the team.
Going forward, with Jenkins getting reps at right tackle, there appear to be two options for the team at his blind tackle position:
- Bakhtiari, who is working out in the field with the rehab group, will return to the team in Week 1.
- Nijman, who last season wasn’t considered good enough to start in the playoffs, will be the opening week starter for the Packers.
Either way, Green Bay, based on its actions, doesn’t seem too concerned about it. His battles right now are at guard, if Jenkins is ready to play football for the regular season, which is suggestive of turning him off the cub list. General manager Brian Gutekunst made it clear last week that at some point Bakhtiari will return to the lineup this year, but LaFleur has dismissed any and all questions about a schedule all summer.
Maybe Nijman took a step that wasn’t under his belt in last year’s playoffs. Perhaps the team is hoping Bakhtiari will return to the team sooner rather than later. Whatever his reasoning, the Packers seem happier with left tackle than left or right guard, which is good news for the offensive line moving forward.