An ankle injury forces Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins to miss practice
GREEN BAY - When Green Bay Packers left tackle Elgton Jenkins misses a practice, it means something isn’t right.
In his two plus years in the NFL — both training camp and the regular season — he had missed just one practice due to injury, a rib/back ailment that sidelined him for a Friday practice in Week 3 last year.
Jenkins may bounce back in a day like he did a year ago, but for now he is sidelined with an ankle injury that forced him to sit out Wednesday’s first day of preparation for the San Francisco 49ers game Sunday night. He did not attend practice as injured players sometimes do, so it’s hard to know how serious the injury is.
Coach Matt LaFleur said Jenkins injured the ankle in the Detroit Lions game Monday night, which he started and finished, playing all 65 offensive snaps.
“Just like we do, we're going to give him the full week to prove that he can play,” LaFleur said. “And if he can go out there and feel confident playing on it, then we'll let him go.”
In Jenkins’ case, they’ll give him until one minute before the inactives are turned in Sunday if that’s what it takes. He has filled in for injured left tackle David Bakhtiari throughout training camp and the regular season and has more than held his own.
The Packers need him this week to protect against the 49ers’ multiple pass-rushing defensive ends and outside linebackers, starting with Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and Dee Ford, who have combined for four sacks and a forced fumble over the first two weeks. All have given the Packers trouble in recent meetings and not having Jenkins, let alone Bakhtiari, would be devastating.
“Elgton’s one of the toughest guys we have on our football team,” LaFleur said. “He’s reliable and does a great job no matter what we asked him to do. He never blinks, he doesn’t flinch, whether it’s center, guard, tackle. He just goes out there and does a great job.”
The Packers practice twice more this week before flying out to the Bay Area on Saturday.
If Jenkins were not able to play, LaFleur would probably move right tackle Billy Turner to left tackle and start veteran Dennis Kelly at right tackle. Turner has started at left tackle before, and while he’s off to a very good start playing exclusively on the right side, he’s a better option than plugging in inexperienced Yosh Nijman against such a good defensive front.
Jenkins has not missed a game and has played all but two offensive snaps since becoming a starter in Week 3 of the 2019 season.
Sternberger heads to Seattle
No team claimed tight end Jace Sternberger after the Packers waived him Tuesday, but his agent, Mike McCartney, announced that Sternberger would be signing with the Seattle Seahawks’ practice squad.
The Packers wanted Sternberger to return to their practice squad, but he decided to make a clean break after two disappointing seasons. He missed the first two games while serving a suspension for violating the substance abuse policy.
49ers game still a family affair for LaFleur
San Francisco 49ers strength coach Dustin Perry is the first cousin of LaFleur’s wife, BreAnne, and 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is almost like family, but there won’t be the same connection the Packers coach has felt in the previous three meetings.
That’s because his brother, Mike, left the 49ers in the offseason to become coach Robert Saleh’s offensive coordinator. The two families often stayed together when Matt and Mike faced each other and the connection between the two brothers was always present as they went head-to-head.
“I think anytime you’re talking about your immediate family, there’s always that element that plays a factor,” LaFleur said. “There’s certainly people I care about and have long relationships with, and it’s not just Kyle. It’s multiple people on their coaching staff.
“It’s never necessarily fun playing against your friends, but it’s part of the business and you kind of put that all aside.”
LaFleur, Shanahan still friends
The Aaron Rodgers saga this offseason could have made for a difficult dynamic between Matt LaFleur and mentor Shanahan.
The 49ers expressed interest to the Packers in trading for Rodgers before the draft this spring. They were quickly rebuffed. General manger Brian Gutekunst made it clear he would not be trading Rodgers this offseason.
“There were points where I thought anything was possible definitely,” Rodgers said when asked if he ever thought he might play for the 49ers this fall, “but not a strong possibility.”
LaFleur said the 49ers’ interest in his quarterback did not fracture his relationship with Shanahan.
“Kyle is a great friend of mine,” LaFleur said. “I haven’t talked to him in a while, it’s just part of the business. You start to kind of get in your own routine, but, yeah, absolutely. I hold no ill will toward him.”
Rodgers defines good throws
Rodgers, long known for his supernatural accuracy, unveiled Wednesday the margin of error he allows to still be considered a good throw.
Spoiler alert: It isn’t much.
“Missing a spot by more than a couple feet, probably, is a bad ball,” Rodgers said. “Missing a spot by a foot, I mean, that’s within the realm of acceptable throws. But a couple feet is kind of the marker.”
It shouldn’t be surprising Rodgers occasionally throws a bad ball. He is human. Even Monday night, when Rodgers completed 22 of 27 passes for four touchdowns, he said not every throw was perfect.
“In that game,” Rodgers said, “I missed probably three.”
Two, Rodgers said, were on deep shots to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He also had a “bad throw” to tight end Robert Tonyan that was so off mark, it resulted in a defensive pass interference.
Rodgers did not count the missed throw to MVS on the goal line late in the first half, likely because there was pressure.