GREEN BAY, Wis. – Since moving into the starting lineup early in his rookie season, Elgton Jenkins has been a piece of granite on the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line.
A second-round pick in 2019, Jenkins not only has started 32 consecutive regular-season games but he missed only two snaps during that span.
Those impressive feats have come to an end. A day after listing him as doubtful for Sunday’s showdown against the San Francisco 49ers, coach Matt LaFleur ruled him out on Saturday. While Jenkins was able to play through the ankle injury on Monday night against Detroit, he didn't practice this week.
The Packers survived the first two weeks without All-Pro David Bakhtiari because Jenkins is one of the better offensive linemen in the NFL.
Where will the Packers turn now?
“That’s the fun part about football. It gives somebody the opportunity to step in if they have to,” offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said.
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“It’s good having him back. He’s a stud. He’s a future Hall of Famer,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.
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“Fun” is one way to put it. Whoever lines up at left tackle will have to contend with Pro Bowl defensive end Nick Bosa, who has three sacks to start the season. According to Pro Football Focus, 77 of Bosa’s 95 defensive snaps have come from the defense’s right side and against the left side of the offensive line.
The Packers have options.
One is going with Yosh Nijman, who entered the league in 2019 and hasn’t played a meaningful snap from scrimmage. But he did have a good preseason against quality competition. The only way a player can become a reliable, battle-tested option is to get the first opportunity.
A second possibility would be inserting 10-year pro Dennis Kelly at left tackle. He started four games at left tackle for the Tennessee Titans in 2019 and allowed one sack and five total pressures.
A third possibility would be shifting right tackle Billy Turner to left tackle and replacing him with Kelly. In his first five starts at left tackle last season – four in the regular season and the playoff game against the Rams – Turner allowed only one sack. However, he gave up two sacks and four pressures against Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship Game.
Bosa is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. In 2019, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft had nine sacks and 16 tackles for losses to be named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. After missing most of last season with a torn ACL, he has three sacks in two games this year.
“I still think Nick's going to keep getting better as this year goes,” Niners coach Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area. “I don't think he’s at his best yet. It's very hard to be when you can't go through an entire offseason, through an entire training camp. But he's good enough right now, and that's what's exciting — when a guy's playing at a high level, and you still think there's more. I think he thinks there's more, too, and that's why, along with Nick and the rest of our team, the difference in what you do throughout a year is you start at a certain level, but you get to get better or worse as the season goes, and I expect Nick to get better.”