Green Bay Packers' offensive line needs to be at its 'best' vs. Chicago. The potential returns of Elgton Jenkins and Josh Myers would help.
GREEN BAY - Gradually, the Green Bay Packers are starting to look like themselves offensively.
They still have a ways to go to be the highest-scoring offense in the NFL as they were a year ago, but some of the parts they’ve been missing along the way to a 4-1 start are nearing return.
On Wednesday, offensive linemen Elgton Jenkins (ankle) and Josh Myers (finger) were taking part in practice after missing the Cincinnati game Sunday. Myers was a full participant, which is a good sign he’ll be able to return this week for the game at Chicago, and Jenkins was limited as he works his way back from a three-game absence.
Having both players back would be a huge boon to the offense even though the Packers held up well with Yosh Nijman at left tackle and Lucas Patrick at center.
“I’m hopeful that they can continue to progress throughout the week,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “We'd love to see them there on Sunday because we are going to need them. I mean, this is just a really sound and physically gifted defense. It's going to be a very, very physical football game.
“And so, we need to be at our best in order to come out on top.”
It would be a huge boost to have Jenkins back because it would mean not having to help Nijman with chip blocks and double teams, which means it would be possible to get tight end Robert Tonyan and running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon more involved in the passing game.
In addition to Jenkins and Myers practicing, H-back Dominique Dafney also took part. Dafney (hip) became eligible to return from injured reserve this week and the Packers could activate him to the 53-man roster any time in the next 21 days.
It’s possible Dafney, who filled several different blocking roles for the Packers before going on injured reserve on Sept. 25, could play this week. The Packers have two more days of practice to determine if Dafney is ready.
David Bakhtiari and Marquez Valdes-Scantling eligible to return from PUP list next week
Next week, left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) is eligible to return from the physically unable to perform list and wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (hamstring) is eligible to return from injured reserve.
LaFleur indicated they would not rush Bakhtiari back on the field given he hasn’t practice since tearing his ACL in practice in December. The Packers have a five-week window in which they can return Bakhtiari to practice, but once they do, they have 21 days to decide whether to activate him or place him on injured reserve.
Once Bakhtiari starts practicing, he can be activated at any time.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said in his weekly news conference that he was hopeful Valdes-Scantling would be able to return next week. The Packers have badly missed his threat to get open deep and most of their wide receiver action has been going to Davante Adams.
Having Valdes-Scantling back might pull away some of the double teams Adams has been getting.
Kevin King's status is unknown after he misses practice
On defense, starting cornerback Kevin King (shoulder) did not practice and his status for Sunday is up in the air. LaFleur said he would give King the entire week to get himself ready, but the Packers are going to need someone ready to take his place.
Veteran Isaac Yiadom filled in for King after he left the Cincinnati game and probably will start if King can’t play.
The only other player who did not practice due to injury was tackle Dennis Kelly, who is suffering from a back ailment.
Packers sign Equanimeous St. Brown from practice squad
The Packers signed wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown from the practice squad to the 53-man roster and signed cornerback Quinton Dunbar to St. Brown’s spot on the practice squad.
The Packers have elevated St. Brown to the 48-man game-day roster the maximum of two times (a third time was as a COVID-19 replacement, which does not count) and so if they want him to play Sunday against Chicago, they needed to find a spot on the 53 for him.
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St. Brown has been playing a significant amount of snaps on special teams and a few on offense.
Dunbar, a seventh-year pro who started out as a wide receiver, played under defensive coordinator Joe Barry his first two years in Washington. He went on to start 31 games over the course of the past six years and spent training camp with the Detroit Lions this summer before signing with the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad. The Cardinals cut him on Oct. 5.
Aaron Rodgers respects Chicago as a sports town
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he has no problem with Chicago Bears fans and appreciates how passionate they are about their teams.
He has been a fan of them as well.
“I don't think they're extremely happy with me, they’re not very cordial most of the time, but I respect that,” he said. “I mean, I respect it's a great sports town. You’ve got two baseball teams, the basketball team that I grew up cheering for.
“I don't know how it was for you guys, but when I was growing up one of the few channels we had on TV was WGN and so you got to watch like Cubs baseball and some Bulls basketball games for whatever reason, so actually became a fan, I think, because I was a big sports fan and that was the only thing on TV.”
Asked if he could see himself playing in Chicago, Rodgers said no.
“It’s just not going to happen,” he said.