The Green Bay Packers have finally received some good news on the injury front. The team’s ever-so versatile offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins returned to practice on Wednesday after missing the last two games with an ankle injury. Barring any setbacks, Jenkins could suit up for the Packers in Week 5 when they face the Cincinnati Bengals.
Jenkins started his first two games at left tackle in 2021 and did a fine job. Pro Football Focus rated him as the third highest-graded offensive lineman in Week 1, as Jenkins was one of the few bright spots on offense in a 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints. He then played every snap against the Detroit Lions before being sidelined the following week.
Jenkins was replaced by Yosh Nijman, who, like Jenkins, had never started an NFL game at left tackle. However, Nijman also did a bang-up job after allowing zero pressures against a stout San Francisco 49ers pass rush.
Packers offensive line coach Adam Stenavich now faces a dilemma, albeit it’s a good problem to have. The Packers have so much talent up front that they must decide where to put guys when more start to get healthy.
Does he insert Jenkins back at left tackle, or does he roll with Nijman and play Jenkins at his regular spot at left guard?
Jon Runyan has been the starting left guard since Week 2. Moving Jenkins back to left guard would put Runyan on the bench despite his and the offense’s recent success. Runyan has allowed one sack and four pressures in 113 snaps as a pass blocker and has also been solid in the run game.
There is also the possibility that Jenkins plays center this week against the Bengals. Rookie center Josh Myers was in attendance for Wednesday’s practice but did not participate. Myers is currently dealing with an injury to his finger suffered in last week’s win over Pittsburgh.
Jenkins has started games at center in the past, including four games in 2020 for an injured Corey Linsley. In total, Jenkins has played 297 snaps at center during his three NFL seasons. Many thought Jenkins was the front runner for the starting center job until Myers stepped up and grabbed ahold of the position in training camp. Jenkins would likely be the starter if Myers is unable to go. Lucas Patrick and Jake Hanson are other options.
Of course, we won’t know who the starting five will be until Green Bay takes the field on Sunday. As Matt LaFleur continues to reiterate, it will be the best five available.