On Thursday, Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich peeled back the curtain on the Packers’ tackle rotation against the Atlanta Falcons. If you noticed last weekend, the Packers played both Rasheed Walker and Yosh Nijman at the left tackle position with starter David Bakhtiari held out of action. On the surface, the rotation didn’t seem to have much rhyme or reason, as Walker and Nijman were, at times, seen on the field together and also completely independently.
According to Stenavich, the reason for this was an NFL rule about players who report eligible. During the first two weeks of the season, Walker has received a few reps as a tight end — plays which force him to “report eligible” due to his #63 jersey.
“When you use a guy as a tight end, if you report eligible, the next play you have to be eligible or you have to come out,” said Stenavich. “So that’s why Yosh would stay in and Rasheed would come in after.”
So that solves it. Walker was the starter at left tackle, but the team also wanted to use him as the extra tight end in six offensive lineman looks. On the play that the Packers got out of that six offensive lineman personnel, Nijman was the left tackle on the play. Nijman’s 12 offensive snaps against the Falcons make sense now. Usually, this problem doesn’t come up at the NFL level because linemen playing tight end usually aren’t starters.
When Stenavich was asked why someone other than the team’s left tackle wouldn’t just line up at tight end instead of Walker, he said that Walker “had gotten most of the reps as a tight end” throughout the week of practice. That could be a hint at how close the call was for Bakhtiari to not suit up against the Falcons last week, as the team’s contingency plan involved an on-the-fly rotation at left tackle.