Elgton Jenkins

Packers Set To Bring In Reinforcements

Quarterback Jordan Love has fared well in his first year as a starter, considering the lack of consistency in the makeup of his offensive line. He should be able to get a bit more centered now as, according to Matt Schneidman of The Athletic, the Packers’ offensive line is expected to be intact once again.

At least, mostly intact; as intact as it’s going to be for the rest of this season. With veteran left tackle David Bakhtiari expected to miss the remainder of the year, there will still be one big absence throughout the rest of the season. Besides that, Love should be getting all of his starting protection back in the lineup.

Right tackle Zach Tom and center Josh Myers have held down the fort, starting every game so far this season with left tackle Rasheed Walker joining them after the injury to Bakhtiari. They will be rejoined by left guard Elgton Jenkins and right guard Jon Runyan this week.

Jenkins has missed the Packers’ last two games after suffering a sprained MCL. The knee injury had the potential to be much more serious, so a two-game absence is an absolute win for Green Bay. Runyan hasn’t missed any games but has been dealing with an ankle injury suffered during Thursday Night Football last week. He was forced to miss a few practices and was in danger of missing this week’s game but is reportedly primed to start.

Additionally, second-year wide receiver Christian Watson, who played through a questionable status from his hamstring injury last week, has finally made his way off the injury report. Watson should be able to play with no restrictions from now on, providing Love with another weapon to target moving forward.

Packers Place LT David Bakhtiari On IR

Still dealing with knee trouble, David Bakhtiari will return to injured reserve. The Packers will be without their All-Pro blind-sider for at least four games, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero report. The Packers have since announced the IR placement.

Bakhtiari has not played since Week 1. Because this transaction is taking place before Green Bay’s Week 4 game, Bakhtiari would be eligible to return in Week 8. But it is far from a lock he will be able to do so, with Rapoport indicating the 11th-year veteran may need more time to come back this year — if, in fact, a return is in the cards.

Bakhtiari, who will turn 32 on Saturday, has undergone three knee surgeries since his New Year’s Eve 2020 ACL tear. That injury effectively threw the highly paid blocker’s career off course. He only returned for a handful of snaps during the 2021 season and missed six games last year, though an appendectomy contributed to his 2022 missed-games ledger. Prior to the seminal 2020 setback — one that played a significant role in the Packers’ Super Bowl LV push falling just short — Bakhtiari had never missed more than four games in a season.

Matt LaFleur said Bakhtiari experienced swelling in his surgically repaired knee before Week 2. The fifth-year Green Bay HC had previously declined to comment on Bakhtiari playing on FieldTurf; the veteran has been a vocal opponent of the surface. But Bakhtiari also missed the Packers’ home opener at Lambeau Field, putting to rest the speculation his Week 2 absence was field surface-related.

It is safe to say Bakhtiari’s career is now at a crossroads. The Packers are certainly a better team when the four-time Pro Bowler is available, but this is the third season in which knee trouble will lead to a lengthy absence. The Packers are also down Elgton Jenkins to a knee injury. Jenkins joined Bakhtiari in missing much of the 2021 season, having suffered an ACL tear himself. But Jenkins recovered from his severe injury on time and has since signed a lucrative Packers extension. Jenkins has been out since suffering an MCL sprain in Week 1. The fifth-year guard does not expect this injury to force an IR stint, ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky notes.

Rasheed Walker has primarily replaced Bakhtiari at left tackle. While the Packers were able to get by without both Bakhtiari and Jenkins en route to home-field advantage in 2021, Aaron Rodgers being in MVP form propped up that effort. Jordan Love being without his best two O-linemen will obviously hinder the cause early in his starter run, though the Rodgers successor managed to eke out a shorthanded win over the Saints last week.

The Packers are also expected to have two of their skill-position pillars back against the Lions tonight. Aaron Jones is set to return from his hamstring injury, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero, who adds Christian Watson is on track to make his season debut after missing three weeks due to a hamstring ailment.

Packers G Elgton Jenkins Suffers MCL Sprain

SEPTEMBER 18: When speaking to the media, Jenkins confirmed he has indeed suffered an MCL sprain. ESPN’s Rob Demovsky notes the 27-year-old is wearing a brace on his left knee, though Jenkins expressed optimism he will be able to return at some point this season. In spite of that, an IR stint is likely in his case as the Packers continue to battle injury troubles with their top O-linemen.

SEPTEMBER 17: The injury woes for the left side of the Packers’ offensive line continued today. With left tackle David Bakhtiari already out for the game under an injury report label of “not injury related – rest,” Green Bay also needed to rely today on a backup at left guard, as well, after Elgton Jenkins left the game with a knee injury.

Jenkins was injured on a running play during which bruising running back A.J. Dillon crashed into the outside of Jenkins’ leg on his way to the ground. Jenkins had to leave the game and failed to make a return during the contest. The Packers don’t quite fear the worst for the ligament at the moment as, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the team believes he has suffered an MCL sprain.

If Jenkins is forced to miss some extended time, it won’t be the first time he has had to do so. The year after his first Pro Bowl season, Jenkins missed the final six games of the year with a torn ACL. He made a strong return the following season, though, starting 15 games and returning to the Pro Bowl, earning himself a four-year, $68MM contract extension.

When Jenkins exited the game today, backup guard Royce Newman subbed in and took his place. Newman does have experience starting for the Packers. As a fourth-round rookie in 2021, Newman started all but one game of the season at right guard. He didn’t quite retain his full-time starting gig in 2022 with Jenkins and Jon Runyan manning the guard spots once again, but Newman did find his way into the starting lineup in six games last year.

Newman has never graded out as an elite lineman, but the Packers will likely be satisfied to have an experienced starter in place until they know the severity of Jenkins’ knee sprain. MCL sprain recoveries can span from as little as three weeks to as many as 12 or more, depending on the severity. Jenkins will undergo an MRI tomorrow to determine that severity and give the team a better idea of where they stand for the next stretch of the season.

Green Bay will hope to see their newly paid guard back out on the field soon, alongside Bakhtiari. In the meantime, the Packers will continue to rely on the likes of Newman and Bakhtiari’s backup, Rasheed Walker.

NFC North Notes: Lions, Jenkins, Udoh, Lowe

The Lions enter Week 18 with a chance to head to the postseason for the first time since 2016, needing a win tonight and help from the Rams this afternoon. Securing a playoff spot would be a testament to their turnaround from a 1-6 start, owing in large part to the play of their offense.

On the other side of the ball, though, Detroit has struggled across the board. The Lions rank last in total defense and are tied for 29th in the NFL in terms of points per game allowed (25.7). That has led to the expectation that a number of offseason moves aimed at shoring up the unit will be among their top priorities.

Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press identifies the secondary as an area of particular focus with respect to improving on defense (subscription required). A number of starters on the backend (including cornerbacks Jeff Okudah and Jerry Jacobs, as well as safeties Kerby Joseph and Tracy Walker) are already on the books for next season, but many others could be headed elsewhere. Among the notable names of pending free agents is corner Amani Oruwariye, who seemed poised for an extension last spring but has not started a game since Week 8 this season amidst a shift to more of a special teams role. That included being benched in Week 5, a sign pointing to a parting of ways come the new league year.

Here are some other notes from around the NFC North:

  • The Packers took care of an important piece of business recently by extending o-lineman Elgton Jenkins on a four-year deal which could be worth up to $74MM. As a result of the new pact, Green Bay was able to adjust the 27-year-old’s base salary for this season, and reap financial benefits down the road. As Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel details (on Twitter), the Packers’ structuring of the deal will see Jenkins carry a cap hit of only $6.8MM in 2023, a season in which the team is projected to have very little financial wiggle room due to cap spikes from the deals such as those for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, left tackle David Bakhtiari and cornerback Jaire Alexander.
  • Jenkins has a new deal, and could wind up with a new position at some point. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said (via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, on Twitter) that the Pro Bowler could play at any spot along the o-line “down the road.” Jenkins has returned to his familiar left guard spot this year after adding to his time spent as a right tackle earlier in the campaign; he also has experience at center and left tackle dating back to previous seasons.
  • Oli Udoh had been facing misdemeanour charges stemming from an incident in October, but the Vikings guard is now in the clear. Odoh was charged with resisting an officer without violence and disorderly conduct after he was removed from a nightclub during the team’s bye week, but those charges have been dropped, as noted by ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. A statement from his attorney reads in part, “The video evidence and eyewitness testimony we presented to the prosecutor made clear that the allegations in the police report were completely fabricated and Oli was unlawfully arrested.” Udoh had been relegated to backup duty in 2022, but he could see starter’s snaps at right tackle moving forward in the absence of Brian O’Neill.
  • The Bears are set to lose a member of their coaching staff with the regular season coming to a close. Defensive backs coach James Rowe is leaving the team, per ESPN’s Courtney Cronin (Twitter link). This had been his first season in Chicago, after he had also spent time in similar roles with Washington and Indianapolis amidst several college stints. Rowe will head back to his alma mater, UCF, to serve as their new defensive passing game coordinator.

Packers, Elgton Jenkins Agree On Extension

The Packers will not let Elgton Jenkins hit free agency. They agreed to a four-year extension with the fourth-year offensive lineman, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

The versatile blocker agreed to bypass a run on the 2023 market by signing a $68MM deal that could max out at $74MM. While Jenkins has worked at both guard and tackle, he has settled in at guard this season. This deal makes him the league’s second-highest-paid guard — behind only Quenton Nelson. Incentives can take the deal to the $74MM mark, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein (on Twitter).

Davante Adams notwithstanding, Green Bay has an extensive history of keeping its priority free agents. (Though, this deal does come around the same point on the calendar when the Packers locked down Adams to his second NFL contract back in 2017.) Months after Jaire Alexander‘s cornerback-record contract, the Packers have Jenkins locked in through the 2026 season. The former second-round pick will collect a $24MM signing bonus, Rapoport adds (on Twitter). ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler has the signing bonus at $22MM (Twitter link).

The Packers do not have too much history with the franchise tag, going 12 years between bringing it out for Ryan Pickett (in 2010) and Adams. But Rapoport notes a tag was likely here. Jenkins’ signing bonus comes in a few million north of the projected $18.3MM O-lineman tag, which undoubtedly came into play during the talks. Jenkins, 27 next week, would have been one of the top free agents on next year’s market. Instead, the Packers paid to make him a long-term cornerstone.

At $17MM per year, Jenkins’ extension checks in closer to the guard field than to Nelson, who is attached to a $20MM-per-year accord. But Nelson’s accomplishments are on another level compared to his age group. Like Alexander, the Packers did not appear to deviate from their preferred contract structure of not including guarantees beyond Year 1. If the signing bonus represents the full guarantee here, Jenkins will be tied to either the fifth- or seventh-highest figure among guards.

This agreement also punctuates Jenkins’ return from the ACL tear that cut his 2021 season short. Although the Packers’ 2022 season has fallen well shy of expectations, this deal rewards a player who has bounced to a few positions along the O-line. Jenkins has made a Pro Bowl at guard — in 2020 — but began last season filling in for David Bakhtiari at left tackle. After Bakhtiari made his long-awaited return to his blindside post this season, Jenkins began his contract year at right tackle. But the Packers kicked him back inside to guard. Despite the move, Friday’s extension compares favorably to most right tackles’ money. The AAV matches Taylor Moton‘s for the fifth-highest at right tackle.

Green Bay selected Jenkins 44th overall in 2019 and made him an instant starter. Stationed alongside Bakhtiari, the Mississippi State alum soon teamed with the All-Pro blindsider to form one of the league’s top inside-outside duos. After Bakhtiari’s career-altering ACL tear on New Year’s Eve 2020, it took until this season for he and Jenkins to play together again. By the time they did, Corey Linsley — whom the Packers let walk in 2021 — was in his second season with the Chargers. Letting Linsley leave freed up funds for Jenkins, who is four years younger.

Last season represented a missed opportunity, though the Packers still secured the No. 1 seed without either standout. Bakhtiari, who underwent three surgeries to address the knee injury, has bounced in and out of the lineup this season. He remains tied to the four-year, $92MM contract he inked during the 2020 campaign. While Bakhtiari has missed five games this season, Jenkins has only missed two. He returned in Week 2 and has played at a Pro Bowl level. No such honor came this week, but Pro Football Focus ranks Jenkins as the league’s No. 7 overall guard. The Packers are paying up for what should be his prime seasons.

Latest On Packers LT David Bakhtiari

The Packers hoped to have David Bakhtiari back in the lineup to start the 2022 season, but that has not come to fruition. The All-Pro left tackle sat out once again during last night’s game against the Bears, and is facing an unusual practice routine when he does make his return. 

As detailed by Ryan Woods of PackersNews.com, Bakhtiari will not suit up for each of the three consecutive practice days during any given week, even after he has fully recovered from the ACL tear which occurred on New Year’s Eve in 2020. The soon-to-be 31-year-old will therefore not have a full week of preparation in advance of any games he does appear in this season.

“He’s gotten a lot of reps,” head coach Matt LaFleur said of Bakhtiari’s slow journey back to game action. “There’s not many people that can probably have a schedule like that, but I do believe – and we believe as an organization – that he’s one of those guys.”

The former fourth-rounder earned Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors in 2020, but was limited to just one game played last season as he attempted to come back from the injury. He underwent a third knee surgery this offseason, which led to a stay on the PUP list but also optimism that he would be fully recovered in time for the season opener. In the absence of that taking place, Yosuah Nijman has filled in on the blindside.

In more positive health news, Green Bay was able to welcome back fellow Pro Bowl tackle Elgton Jenkins and No. 1 receiver Allen Lazard yesterday, after the pair were sidelined for Week 1. Their health will give the Packers’ offense a notable boost, but the team’s second highest-paid player appears to face plenty of uncertainty in the short- and long-term future with respect to his availability.

Packers OTs David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, WR Allen Lazard Unlikely To Play Week 1

SEPTEMBER 11: Unfortunately, the Packers will be without their OT bookends for at least one more week. Per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, both Bakhtiari and Jenkins will miss Sunday’s opener against the Vikings. Yosuah Nijman, who started eight games at left tackle in 2021, will again get the nod in Bakhtiari’s absence.

SEPTEMBER 10: Green Bay is facing a generally positive situation on the injury front heading into their season opener against the Vikings. One notable absence is expected in the receiving corps, however. 

The Packers’ final injury report lists Allen Lazard as doubtful (Twitter link via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky). He has been dealing with an ankle injury, which has kept him out of practice throughout the week. Green Bay would sorely miss their new top receiver in the event of any lengthy absence.

Lazard signed his RFA tender in June, locking him into a one-year salary of just under $4MM. The timing of his contract status couldn’t have been any better, as the 26-year-old is set to take on the No. 1 spot following the departures of Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling this offseason. A former UDFA, Lazard posted career highs across the board in a complementary role last season with 40 catches, 513 yards and eight touchdowns.

Assuming he misses the Minnesota game, the Packers will turn to veterans Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins at the position, along with rookies Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers openly criticized the young pass-catchers last month as they look to prepare for significant roles right away to begin their NFL careers. Doubs in particular is slated to be a starter, and has reportedly formed a rapport with the reigning MVP, potentially setting him up for a notable workload especially if Lazard is out.

As Demovsky notes, several other key players are expected to suit up for the Packers. Among those are offensive lineman David Bakhtiari and Elgton JenkinsThe former made it clear earlier this week that he expects to be recovered from the torn ACL which essentially cost him all of last season. The latter, meanwhile, should man the right tackle spot with Bakhtiari back, giving the Packers a formidable bookend tandem.

Tight end Robert Tonyan will also play, after he spent the offseason recovering from his own ACL tear. He, along with running back Aaron Jones, profile as significant contributors in the Packers’ passing game, especially without Lazard on the field.

David Bakhtiari Expects To Play In Week 1

David Bakhtiari has not played a full game since his New Year’s Eve 2020 ACL tear. The All-Pro Packers left tackle has undergone three knee surgeries since that setback, with a separate knee issue necessitating the third procedure. While it is taken a long time, the 10th-year pro expects to be back in Week 1 against the Vikings.

The Packers took Bakhtiari off their active/PUP list late in training camp, opening the door to a September return. Bakhtiari went through 11-on-11 drills Monday and indicated he has been doing so for “several” practices now, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes.

I can get through the season,” Bakhtiari said. “It’s going to be fine. You have to just manage while playing. I’m just getting back in the swing of things. So, I mean, I think there’s normal rust and then new normal with three surgeries, so just kind of working that out and figuring out what my routine is.

The 30-year-old blocker played all of 27 snaps last season — during a meaningless Week 18 game in Detroit — but was not healthy enough to suit up for Green Bay’s divisional-round game. The Packers having their highly paid tackle back in place would obviously be a tremendous boost, considering they played without both their Pro Bowl O-linemen for much of last season.

Elgton Jenkins‘ status is not known, per Demovsky, who reiterates the versatile performer is expected to be Green Bay’s right tackle this season. Once he is healthy, that is. Jenkins suffered a torn ACL on Nov. 21, 2021. It would not surprise if the Packers gave the contract-year blocker, who was a Pro Bowler while at left guard in 2020 before going down while filling in for Bakhtiari at left tackle last season, more time to recover. Jenkins might be ahead of schedule, with a stay on the reserve/PUP list once rumored. But it is uncertain if he will start in Minnesota.

This duo’s statuses were a constant talking point for the three-time reigning NFC North champions this offseason. Bakhtiari is a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro. His absence in the 2020 NFC championship game cost the Packers dearly, though Matt LaFleur‘s team won 13 games without him last year. Bakhtiari and Jenkins suiting up together for the first time since Week 16 of the 2020 season would end this lengthy chapter of O-line uncertainty and help the Packers as they transition to a period of pass-catcher uncertainty.

OL Rumors: Pipkins, Packers, Vikes, Falcons

Practically the only need the Chargers did not address this offseason was right tackle, where incumbent Storm Norton and backup Trey Pipkins waged a summer competition. It looks like there will be a change up front for the Bolts. Pipkins appears to have beaten out Norton for the gig, Daniel Popper of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The two are swapping roles, with Pipkins — a 2019 third-round pick — leaving his swing tackle post to try his luck as a starter again. Norton, who replaced Bryan Bulaga early last season and made 15 starts, worked with the second team throughout practice this week and saw time as the second-string left tackle as well. Pipkins, 25, has made 10 career starts. While the Chargers demoted him in 2021, they were impressed with his left- and right-side spot starts late in the season. The University of Sioux Falls product, who is going into a contract year, will work on a line full of free agency investments (Corey Linsley, Matt Feiler) and first-round picks (Rashawn Slater, Zion Johnson).

Here is the latest from the O-line scene:

  • Staying on the right tackle topic, Elgton Jenkins is expected to settle in there when he returns, per Albert Breer of SI.com. A high-end Swiss Army knife for the Packers, Jenkins made the 2020 Pro Bowl at guard and began last season as David Bakhtiari‘s left tackle fill-in. An ACL tear sidelined Jenkins in November. Jenkins would stand to command more in earnings with a quality right tackle season, though staying on the field in 2022 will position him for a lucrative deal no matter where he lines up. The Packers removed both players from the active/PUP list this month but do not yet know if Jenkins and Bakhtiari — who have not played together since December 2020 — will be ready for Week 1, Matt LaFleur reiterated Sunday. When healthy, a Bakhtiari-Jenkins duo would be one of the league’s best tackle tandems.
  • The Vikings are on the verge of having five homegrown first- or second-round picks as O-line starters. Second-round rookie Ed Ingram is “trending” toward being the Vikes’ right guard starter, Kevin O’Connell said (via the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson). Although Minnesota signed Jesse Davis and Chris Reed as potential stopgaps, Ingram has impressed since moving to first-team duty during camp. Ingram worked with Minnesota’s first team in joint practices against San Francisco, with Davis — who had taken some days off to rest a surgically repaired knee — shifting to the second team, Tomasson adds. Ingram was also held out of the Vikings’ preseason finale Saturday, and while O’Connell stopped short of locking the LSU product into the lineup, that is the likely scenario. Ingram would join 2021 first-rounder Christian Darrisaw, 2020 second-rounder Ezra Cleveland, 2019 first-rounder Garrett Bradbury and 2018 second-rounder Brian O’Neill on a fully homegrown Vikings line.
  • Free agent pickup Elijah Wilkinson looks to have commandeered the Falcons‘ left guard spot, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who notes the former Broncos and Bears blocker looks set to play ahead of 2021 third-rounder Jalen Mayfield. The Michigan product struggled as a rookie, ranking as a bottom-10 Pro Football Focus guard. Mayfield did start 16 games, so a demotion is certainly notable for player who started one with the Bears last season. Wilkinson’s most relevant NFL work came in Denver, when he served as Ja’Wuan James‘ primary replacement from 2019-20. Mayfield may already be on Atlanta’s roster bubble, per Ledbetter.

Packers Activate Elgton Jenkins, Robert Tonyan, Christian Watson From PUP List

The health of several Packers players has been one of the largest talking points for the team this offseason. Positive news came today on that front, as offensive lineman Elgton Jenkinstight end Robert Tonyan and receiver Christian Watson were activated from the active/PUP list (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport). 

Teams have until August 23 to activate players in this situation, so the timing of the move is highly encouraging with respect to their regular season availability. Beginning the campaign on the reserve/PUP list was considered a likely outcome in Jenkins’ case last week. That would have dealt a major blow to the Packers’ o-line (requiring him to be sidelined for at least the first four games of the season), especially given the uncertainty surrounding All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari.

Instead, Jenkins’ activation represents a positive sign in his recovery from the ACL tear he suffered last November. Assuming he is able to play at the start of the season, the question of where he lines up on the line will become one of great importance. On that subject, head coach Matt LaFleur simply said “time will tell” (Twitter link via Matt Schneidman of The Athletic). The Pro Bowler has experience at guard, but could also operate on the blindside if Bakhtiari isn’t recovered from his own knee ailment by Week 1.

Similar to Jenkins, Tonyan was a question mark for the start of the season. He, too, is rehabbing a torn ACL – an injury which limited him to eight games and only 18 receptions last year. His production in previous campaigns earned the 28-year-old a one-year contract to stay in Green Bay in 2022, where he will once again be counted on as the team’s top tight end. Given the departures of Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Tonyan should be in line for a larger role in the team’s passing attack.

Watson profiles as a direct replacement on the perimeter for the team’s departed wideouts. The second-rounder was a surprising addition to the PUP list last month, given that an injury wasn’t specified in his case. He will likely shoulder a large workload given the lack of veterans ahead of him on the depth chart, and the prolific numbers he put up at North Dakota State.

Today’s news doesn’t guarantee, of course, that any of the trio will be active in time for the start of the regular season. Their activation gives them a chance to play, however, which will be a welcomed sight as the Packers look to contend once again for a Super Bowl.