Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur made headlines on Sunday by announcing that the team was going to practice with offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins, tight end Robert Tonyan and receiver Christian Watson, which would take them off of the physically unable to perform list. Watson had surgery this summer to fix a knee problem while Jenkins and Tonyan tore their ACLs during the 2021 regular season.
It wouldn’t have surprised anyone if Jenkins and Tonyan started on the PUP list to begin the year, which would have kept them off of the 53-man roster for at least the first month of the regular season schedule. All three players are expected to be significant contributors when healthy, as Jenkins can play any spot on the offensive line — which is still missing left tackle David Bakhtiari, Tonyan is the team’s primary pass-catching tight end and Watson, the rookie, is expected to push for a starting role as a field-stretcher.
Of the nine players that the Packers originally placed on the PUP list, only three remain: Bakhtiari, running back Kylin Hill and kicker Mason Crosby. If a player starts the regular season on the physically unable to perform list, they have to sit out at least four games but may return to practice for a three-week window before being activated to the 53-man roster. For what it’s worth, the team signed a third kicker, Ramiz Ahmed, on Sunday after backup kicker Gabe Brkic “tweaked” his hamstring during the preseason opener.
LaFleur did expand on the trio’s activation:
Now I say that, it’s just the next step in the process. It’s not like they’re going to be out there in team drills, but they’ll do some individual and, with them being back, it allows you to do some walkthroughs, which, is going to be, obviously, very beneficial for a guy who hasn’t played in the National Football League like Christian [Watson.] So it’ll be great to get them out there for some of the walkthroughs.
He later said he won’t rule out any of them getting playing time in the preseason, but he “wouldn’t hold my breath on that, either.” When asked if Jenkins can play Week 1, LaFleur said everything is on the table but “again, I’m not going to hold my breath on that.” He also noted that the team hasn’t made a decision on which position Jenkins will return to.