Reports out of Green Bay on Monday indicate that Packers offensive linemen Elgton Jenkins suffered a season-ending injury during Sunday's disappointing loss to their NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings. Jenkins suffered the injury in a non-contact instance during the third quarter while retreating in pass protection. It’s a catastrophic blow for a Packers club that appears to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders in a highly competitive NFC and is already dealing with injuries to other significant players such as Jaire Alexander, Za'Darius Smith, Josh Myers, Aaron Jones, Whitney Mercilus, and others. Green Bay will now enter their crucial Week 12 Sunday afternoon showdown against the Los Angeles Rams as one of the most hobbled teams in all of football.
A third-year player out of Mississippi State, Jenkins has begun his NFL career in rather incredible fashion. He has quickly established himself as one of the most skilled and versatile offensive linemen in the league. Jenkins was initially drafted to take over the left guard position in Green Bay, something he did with terrific reliability as a rookie, making 14 starts at the position. It wasn't until 2020 that Jenkins began to truly flex his versatility.
As injuries decimated Green Bay up front, Jenkins' ability to adapt on the fly came in handy. The Clarksdale, Mississippi native astoundingly started all 16 games across three positions in 2020, including starts at center and right tackle. Jenkins' efforts rightfully earned him his first Pro Bowl appearance, an impressive accomplishment for a sophomore blocker that spent time manning several positions.
The legend of Jenkins has somehow reached new heights throughout the first half of 2021. All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari began the new season on the Physically Unable to Perform list due to a torn ACL suffered in late December of 2020. The decision to reshuffle the starting five was made, and for the first instance in his professional career, Jenkins found himself as the starter at left tackle. The 25-year-old Jenkins responded to the challenge in expected fashion, because at this point, there's nothing he can't do. Jenkins was outstanding while protecting Aaron Rodgers’ blindside, and the Packers will miss him immensely down the stretch.
Jenkins was replaced at left tackle by Yosh Nijman, a third-year undrafted free agent out of Virginia Tech. Nijman will be the expected starter at the position until Bakhtiari is able to return, and the Packers need a Herculean effort from him in order to keep this from snowballing into the worst-case scenario.
Jenkins’ injury now places a ticking clock on Bakhtiari’s timetable to return, as head coach Matt LaFleur needs his stud left tackle back in the lineup now more than ever before. The Packers are capable of achieving something truly special in 2021, but it’s going to require all hands on deck from here on out, and a lot better luck in the personal health department.
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