When the Green Bay Packers take the field on Sunday against the Denver Broncos, they will have a new starter at left guard. Over the past three years, Lane Taylor has started all but four games at that position, locking it down since the team surprisingly released Josh Sitton after the preseason in 2016. Taylor has missed just three starts overall, while kicking out to left tackle for one game in 2017.
However, rookie second-round draft pick Elgton Jenkins will get the call this Sunday. Head coach Matt LaFleur confirmed that Jenkins will be in the starting lineup during his Friday press conference.
There are two explanations for this change. The first is that Taylor is dealing with a biceps injury that flared up during practice this week. He did not appear on Wednesday’s injury report, but was listed as limited on Thursday with that ailment.
Of course, the other explanation is that Jenkins has simply earned the job over Taylor outright based on performance. LaFleur confirmed that the two were locked in competition over the entire preseason, and he only named Taylor the week one starter just before the preseason finale. However, in week two the Packers began working Jenkins into the lineup in week two, giving him 18 snaps on a handful of series. It seems that the team saw enough from him to give him the green light to step in; indeed, LaFleur said earlier this week that he “was really fired up with” Jenkins’ performance against the Vikings.
As for Jenkins, the soft-spoken lineman addressed the news with the media on Friday:
Rookie second-rounder Elgton Jenkins will start at LG on Sunday. How some spot snaps there last weekend prepared him for his first career start: pic.twitter.com/C9TXMbT0Cn— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) September 20, 2019
It was only a matter of time before Jenkins entered the starting lineup. The Packers have expressed great excitement about the former Mississippi State lineman ever since selecting him with the 44th overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, and he performed well throughout the preseason.
Taylor’s status, however, now is in question. He may revert to a key backup role, but it is also possible that the Packers could look to move him before the NFL’s trade deadline on October 30. His contract runs through 2020, so a trade would allow the Packers to free up a bit of cap space this year and next.