Elgton Jenkins' season-ending injury dashes Packers' hopes of reuniting him with David Bakhtiari

Ryan Wood
Packers News
View Comments

GREEN BAY - In two weeks, visions of an All-Pro tackle and Pro Bowl guard anchoring the left side of the Green Bay Packers offensive line have devolved into something entirely less appealing. 

Elgton Jenkins, the third-year star offensive lineman who has protected Aaron Rodgers' blindside all season, tore his ACL on Sunday in Minnesota, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Jenkins was moving laterally to his left to block Vikings safety Harrison Smith when he crumpled to the field and immediately clutched his left knee, the prototypical noncontact injury that often results in a torn ACL. 

“It’s unfortunate,” coach Matt LaFleur said before confirming Jenkins will be out for the rest of this season. “Certainly Elgton has been a big part of this team, and still is a big part of this team. He just won’t be out there with us.” 

The injury comes with All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari's return from his own torn ACL "unknown," by Rodgers' admission. Bakhtiari was activated from the physically unable to perform list Nov. 10, but he has not practiced in more than a week. His game designation Friday was also downgraded to “out” after being “doubtful” a week earlier against Seattle. 

LaFleur said last week he was hopeful Bakhtiari could return this season. On Monday, LaFleur said “I think” that Bakhtiari can return. 

Packers offensive tackle Elgton Jenkins (74) is carted off the field after getting injured in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

Bakhtiari will not be available this week or for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams. With the bye next week, he has been shut down for the next two at least. 

“There’s certainly a plan,” LaFleur said, “but not everything goes as planned all the time. So he won’t be out there this week. We’ll just see where he’s at after the bye, and we’re hopeful he’ll be able to come back this year at some point. It certainly is not for a lack of work ethic on his part. It’s not for a lack of toughness. It’s just one of those things that you never quite know how everybody is going to respond to the recovery process. I think that’s just where we’re at with him.” 

Jenkins slid outside from left guard, where he was a Pro Bowler last season, to play 496 snaps over eight starts at left tackle in Bakhtiari's place this season. The plan had been for Jenkins to return to guard once Bakhtiari is able to play, giving the Packers perhaps the best left side of an offensive line in the NFL. Until Bakhtiari returns, the left side of the Packers' offensive line will instead consist of tackle Yosh Nijman and guard Jon Runyan Jr. 

“He’s been so versatile for us,” Rodgers said of Jenkins after Sunday’s game. “He can play every position on the line. He’s played at least four of them. So definitely hate to see that happen.

"With Dave’s status unknown,” Rodgers said, “we’re going to have to rely on probably Yosh. He’s played some good football for us. So proud of the way he stepped in, but hopefully the news isn’t so bad with Elgton.” 

RELATED: Dougherty: Losing Elgton Jenkins would be difficult to overcome

RELATEDOffense shows hope, but challenges are mounting for Green Bay Packers

RELATED: Packers' secondary on 'emotional roller-coaster' vs. Justin Jefferson

RELATED: Packers coach Matt LaFleur fumes over 'inexcusable' penalty flags

RELATED: Packers keep battling back but can't overcome costly mistakes

RELATED: Green Bay vs. Minnesota Vikings: Packers fan ratings in 34-31 loss

Jenkins’ bad news Monday is only a continuation of a season-long epidemic for the Packers. The first two seasons under LaFleur were mostly free of any major injuries. His third year has been very different.

The Packers have been without All-Pro pass rusher Za’Darius Smith since Week 1. Smith had back surgery a week after playing 18 snaps against the New Orleans Saints, and his return timeline is unknown. Jaire Alexander injured the AC joint in his shoulder in Week 4, and he has not played since.

Those are the Packers' two most important defensive players. Outside linebacker Rashan Gary (hyperextended elbow), cornerback Kevin King (shoulder) and cornerback Eric Stokes (knee) have missed games with injuries.

On offense, tight end Robert Tonyan (torn ACL), running back Aaron Jones (torn MCL), receiver Davante Adams (COVID-19), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (hamstring) and center Josh Myers (knee) have missed time with injuries.

Then there was Aaron Rodgers’ absence because of COVID-19. And now a toe injury for Rodgers that will limit his practice this week and require rest over next week’s bye, which can’t come soon enough for the Packers.

“I don’t believe so,” LaFleur said when asked if Rodgers’ injury will be a problem for Sunday’s game against the Rams. “I think he is as tough as they come, and I think he’ll fight through this thing.”

Of all the Packers’ injuries, the combination of Jenkins and Bakhtiari might be most significant. The Packers saw last season when Bakhtiari’s absence in the NFC championship game potentially cost them a trip to the Super Bowl how important their offensive line is to any January plans. To be without both would be a devastating blow.

“It’s just one of those deals,” LaFleur said, “that it’s an unfortunate part of our game, and we’ve had a lot of those guys unfortunately have to go through this, this year. Luckily, Yosh has been playing some good ball for us, and we’ve got other guys as well. Eventually, we’ll get David back, I think. We’ll just handle it week to week.” 

View Comments