All week, the discourse around the Green Bay Packers has centered around fixing the offensive line, and to the team’s credit, they have identified the same issues. Right guard Royce Newman has struggled mightily of late while Elgton Jenkins has had major issues in pass protection at right tackle. As a result, the Packers have reportedly planned to move Jenkins back to left guard, his primary position when he entered the NFL and where he played for most of the 2020 season, when he made the Pro Bowl.
That plan likely would have shifted Jon Runyan, Jr. from left guard to right guard, pulling Newman out of the starting lineup with Yosh Nijman taking over at right tackle.
However, the plan has hit a snag in the form of David Bakhtiari’s surgically-repaired knee. Here’s the full report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport:
The #Packers planned to retool their offensive line today, sources say, with Elgton Jenkins moving to left guard. But with LT David Bakhtiari (knee) now listed as questionable, it may not be possible. The focus all week was securing that O-line and blocking better.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 23, 2022
Bakhtiari practiced three straight days this week, something that head coach Matt LaFleur said earlier this season might never happen again. All was looking well for the All-Pro left tackle until Saturday, when he landed on the injury report as questionable. As a result, the Packers’ shuffling up front may end up going on hold again if they feel the need to keep Nijman available to spell Bakhtiari on the left side.
That could mean that the same five players start in the same five places on the line as they have the last several weeks. Even Jake Hanson is not an option to slot in for Newman, as he has recently gone on injured reserve.
If the Packers do insist on moving Jenkins back to guard, however, one option would be to start rookie 4th-round pick Zach Tom at right tackle. That would allow Nijman to still be available to sub in for Bakhtiari as needed. Yet another possibility is leaving Nijman at right tackle and using Tom as Bakhtiari’s sub, as Tom played left tackle extensively in college.
Whatever the plan is, it will likely be heavily dependent on how Bakhtiari feels on Sunday leading up to and during the game. But one thing is certain: the Packers must come up with a long-term plan for how to address the right side if Bakhtiari continues to have these issues.