Packers Sign Monster Rookie OT With Three Starters Injured

Caleb Jones Promotion

Getty Packers All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari remains uncertain to play in Week 2's home opener against the Bears.

The Green Bay Packers are adding another 11th offensive lineman to their active roster for Week 2’s home opener against the Chicago Bears with the statuses of three of their veteran starters currently unknown.

According to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, the Packers are signing offensive tackle Caleb Jones — a 6-foot-9, 370-pound undrafted rookie out of Indiana — from their practice squad to the 53-man roster. He had been a contender to make their initial active roster after a standout training camp with the team this summer.

Jones played 84 snaps at left tackle and gave up just a single pressure for the Packers over three preseason games. Pro Football Focus also gave him the second-highest grade (85.0) among the team’s offensive players who participated in the preseason, finishing behind only starting center Josh Myers (85.1). Now, he will have the chance to back up starting tackles Yosh Nijman and Royce Newman as the Packers wait for some of their veterans to get back to full health.

A corresponding roster move will need to be made in order to make room for Jones on the 53-man roster. It is possible the Packers could be placing one of their injured players on short-term injured reserve, but they might also just make a cut to clear the necessary space. As for who it might be, the NFL will release its official transaction wire later this afternoon that could have more information.

Will Bakhtiari & Jenkins Return for Week 2 vs. Bears?

Coming into Week 1’s opener against the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers seemed like they had a good chance of having both David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins back in their lineup together for the first time since the 2020 season. They had each practiced for the entire week (in a limited capacity) and were given “questionable” designations in the team’s final injury report for the game, which seemed vaguely optimistic. In the end, though, the Packers ruled both of them inactive about an hour before kickoff.

Now, the guessing game will continue into Week 2 for both Bakhtiari and Jenkins with another name — starting left guard Jon Runyan Jr. — added to the mix as well. Runyan sustained a concussion in the second half of Week 1’s loss to the Vikings and will need to clear the necessary protocols this week in practice before he is cleared to return. In the worst case, that could mean the Packers are playing without three of their best offensive linemen when they take the field on Sunday night against the Bears.

The Packers’ offensive line already looked a bit unsettled in the first game with quarterback Aaron Rodgers noting there were missed blocks and assignments throughout from his less-experienced offensive linemen. Every starter except for Runyan gave up at least one pressure with right tackle Royce Newman giving up three pressures and a sack and left guard Jake Hanson allowing four pressures and a sack. Even rookie Zach Tom gave up a pressure after subbing in midway through the game.

Could Packers Get Rookie OL More Involved in Week 2?

The Packers will have their fingers crossed that all three of their injured starters can rejoin their offensive line for Week 2’s matchup with the Bears, but there are a few things they could do to remedy the situation if they find themselves with the same alignment that finished Sunday’s loss against the Vikings.

For starters, the Packers can reassess a few of their weaker performers from Week 1. Newman didn’t always look comfortable in his debut at right tackle, while Hanson was borderline disastrous at right guard for longer stretches than the Packers would prefer. If the Packers do make an adjustment, one could be swapping out Hanson for either the fourth-round rookie Tom or third-round rookie Sean Rhyan, shifting the focus to developing their younger talent instead of a former sixth-round pick in his third season.

Another option could be sliding Newman inside to right guard — where he played more than 1,000 snaps last year as a rookie starter — and putting Tom, Rhyan or seventh-rounder Rasheed Walker at the right tackle spot. That one might be considered a long shot since the Packers preach putting their “best five” guys out there on the O-line, but if Newman fits better inside, the rookies are the next in line to step up on the outside.

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