Packers rookie Elgton Jenkins brings athleticism to starting guard role

Ryan Wood
Packers News
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GREEN BAY - With Lane Taylor injured, the Green Bay Packers could be making a changing of the guard.

The Packers ruled out Taylor for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos. His absence opens a spot for rookie Elgton Jenkins to be the Packers’ starting left guard.

Taylor missed practice Friday with a biceps injury. Jenkins, a second-round pick, rotated behind Taylor at left guard last week against the Minnesota Vikings.

The Packers could give Jenkins every opportunity to keep the job moving forward, even after Taylor returns from his biceps injury. But it will be on the rookie to play well enough to keep his starting role.

Jenkins said his promotion doesn’t change how he’ll approach Sunday’s game.

“I always try to be (ready),” Jenkins said. “If you stay ready, you don’t have to (get) ready. Each and every week, doing the same things over and over. You never know when your name is going to be called, so just being ready each and every week.”

Packers guard Elgton Jenkins (74) during a joint training camp practice with the Houston Texans at Ray Nitchske Field Tuesday, August 6, 2019, in Ashwaubenon, Wis.

Jenkins said he was told Wednesday that he would be the starter.

The Packers drafted Jenkins so high partly because they think his athleticism translates well to their outside-zone-blocking scheme. Jenkins played all five positions in college at Mississippi State, starting the last two years at center, where he was one of the nation’s best at the position.

Jenkins believes he’s ready to start.

“I just feel like, not to sound cocky,” Jenkins said, “but I don’t feel like I go out there with nerves. Because I prepare with the coaches and the guys in the room to go out there and perform at a high level.”

Graham returns to practice

The Packers were without four players at practice Friday, though their starting tight end returned to participate for the first time this week.

Tight end Jimmy Graham (groin) practiced Friday inside the Don Hutson Center. Graham played through his injury last week against the Minnesota Vikings. Barring a setback, he might be good to go Sunday against the Broncos.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur said Graham “looked good” in practice and doesn’t need much preparation this week.

“He’s a pro, and he’s locked in,” LaFleur said. “He’s getting those mental reps, so it should be a seamless transition.”

Graham was listed “questionable” on Friday’s injury report. He was joined by outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell (shoulder) and receivers Jake Kumerow (shoulder) and Darrius Shepherd (hamstring).

Receiver Davante Adams headlined the quartet of players who missed Friday’s practice. Adams was absent because of a personal matter but is expected to play Sunday.

Bakhtiari back to health

A week after David Bakhtiari’s back flared up, the All-Pro left tackle has had no issues in this week’s practice.

Bakhtiari said last week’s back issue was just muscular, not structural. He expected the injury to heal quickly.

The biggest pain for Bakhtiari, as well as right tackle Bryan Bulaga, is the murderer’s row of edge rushers the Packers face early in their season. The Packers opened against Chicago’s Khalil Mack, perhaps the NFL’s best edge rusher. It didn’t get much easier last week against the Minnesota Vikings duo of Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter.

This week, the Packers will face Broncos edge rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.

“The one thing that is the same is they all compete at a high level,” Bakhtiari said.

From there, many of the similarities end.

Bakhtiari described last week’s opponent, Griffen, as a “wrecking ball.” Griffen heavily uses his bull rush, while Mack translates his exceptional length into power.

The Broncos don’t switch their two edge rushers, presenting interesting matchups against the Packers' pair of tackles. Bakhtiari will primarily line up against Chubb, a power rusher. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga will mostly block Von Miller, an ultra-athletic speed rusher.

“Last time we played,” Bakhtiari said, “Miller came over to my side a few times. I wouldn’t be surprised if I see Miller. Of course, we’ll study both.”

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