GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins, who has capably replaced 2020 All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari to start the season, is doubtful for Sunday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Jenkins injured an ankle during Monday night’s victory over Detroit. While he played every snap in that game, he didn’t practice this week.
“There’s definitely an outside chance” of Jenkins playing, coach Matt LaFleur said after Friday’s practice. “If he can come around in the next 48 hours or whatever before we kick off, then we’d let him go.”
Jenkins, a Pro Bowl left guard last season, has missed only two snaps while starting 32 consecutive regular-season games. Jenkins has shifted to left tackle this year to fill in for Bakhtiari, who will miss at least the first six games of the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament on Dec. 31.
Left tackle is considered the most important position on the offensive line, and that’s especially true for Green Bay this week. 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa rushes mostly from the defense’s right side and against the left tackle. The No. 2 overall pick of the 2019 draft has three sacks and one forced fumble in helping the 49ers to a 2-0 start.
LaFleur wouldn’t say who would start in Jenkins’ place, but there are three logical possibilities.
When Bakhtiari was sidelined twice by injuries last season – broken ribs in the regular season and the torn ACL at the end of the season – LaFleur shifted right tackle Billy Turner to the left side. LaFleur could go that route again and insert 10-year pro Dennis Kelly at right tackle. Kelly started 16 games there for the Tennessee Titans last season.
LaFleur could insert Kelly at left tackle and keep Turner at right tackle. The 31-year-old Kelly started at left tackle for the first four games of the 2019 season and got some work there for Green Bay in training camp.
Another possibility is to replace Jenkins with Yosh Nijman, who hasn’t played a meaningful snap in his brief career. An undrafted free agent in 2019 with excellent natural ability, Nijman spent his rookie season on the practice squad and most of the 2020 season on the bench.
In training camp this summer, Nijman started all three games at left tackle. In 157 snaps from scrimmage, he generally fared well while facing starting players for the Houston Texans, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills.
“It’s a collective effort across not only the offensive line but everybody’s got to be on point, whether it’s in the run or the pass but, especially, in the passing game,” LaFleur said. “When you’re talking about disruptive edge rushers, everybody else has a responsibility to be where they need to be within the timing of the play. The quarterback has a responsibility in terms of making sure he’s working through his progressions and the rhythm and timing with what the play is meant to be. So, it puts a little extra on everybody.”
NOTES: Jenkins and TE Dominique Dafney (hip) were the only Packers with a status on the injury report. Dafney didn’t practice and is questionable. … Three starters on San Francisco’s defense – end Arik Armstead, tackle Javon Kinlaw and cornerback Emmanuel Moseley – are questionable. All three were limited at Friday’s practice.