The Green Bay Packers are going to have to host the Los Angeles Rams without three of their five starting offensive linemen.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur told reporters on November 22 the team would not have either Pro Bowl offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins or All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari available for Week 12 against the Rams at Lambeau Field. For Bakhtiari specifically, he said the hope is that the 30-year-old will still return at some point during the 2021 season but said they would have to re-evaluate after the bye week.
“There’s certainly a plan, but not everything goes as planned all the time,” LaFleur said. “He won’t be out there this week. We’ll just see where he’s at after the bye and, like I said, we’re hopeful that he’ll be able to come back this year at some point. It certainly isn’t for a lack of work ethic on his part, it’s not for a lack of toughness. It’s just one of those things that you never quite know how everybody’s going to respond to the recovery process and I think that’s just where we’re at with him.”
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LaFleur Confirms Jenkins is Done for 2021
LaFleur also confirmed the worst Jenkins — who had been starting at left tackle in Bakhtiari’s place — in regards to the knee injury he sustained during Week 11’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Earlier, ESPN’s Adam Schefter had reported that “test confirmed” Jenkins had torn his ACL against the Vikings and would have to miss the remainder of the season.
“It’s unfortunate,” LaFleur said. “Certainly, Elgton’s been a big part of this team and still is a big part of this team, but he just won’t be out there with us. It’s just one of those deals that it’s an unfortunate part of our game and we’ve had a lot of guys, unfortunately, have to go through this this year. Luckily, we’ve got Yosh (Nijman), (he’s) been playing some good ball for us and we’ve got other guys as well. Eventually, we’ll get David back, I think, and we’ll just handle it week-to-week.”
The Packers will now have to turn to backups at three of the spots on their offensive line for the foreseeable future. They also lost second-round rookie center Josh Myers to a knee injury earlier in the season, one that offensive line coach Adam Stenavich accidentally revealed Myers underwent surgery to correct. It remains unclear whether he will return at any point during the 2021 season.
Packers Remain Confident in Yosh Nijman
Fortunately, the Packers won’t be heading into next Sunday’s pre-bye showdown with the Rams without some idea of what their backup plan will be at left tackle. Nijman — who went undrafted in 2019 and has slowly climbed the ranks for the Packers — already got his first three NFL starts at left tackle earlier in the year when Jenkins missed three games with an ankle injury. He also did a decent job in protection, allowing just two sacks in three games and playing beyond his experience level against Nick Bosa in Week 3’s matchup with San Francisco.
“I think every time that a guy goes out there and is able to perform at a high level, you just see their confidence build, and I think that’s so important in this game,” LaFleur said of the growth he has seen from Nijman. “Especially in the game of football, when you see guys who are confident out there, they are able to execute at a higher level. I think Yosh has all the traits you look for in an offensive lineman. He’s big, he’s athletic, he can bend. He’s strong, powerful, everything. It’s just about putting it all together on a consistent basis.”