Amid continued uncertainty, Packers line appears to be bouncing back | Professional soccer

JASON WILDE For the State Journal

GREEN BAY — Yosh Nijman was not going anywhere near the question.

The Green Bay Packers backup left tackle is a smart guy, so when asked following last Sunday’s loss to Minnesota if he’s had a good enough idea all week he’s going to start instead of David Bakhtiari – and that Royce Newman would start at right tackle instead of Elgton Jenkins – Nijman smiled.

“Uh…” Nijman said hesitantly, “I think that’s something you should discuss with Coach LaFleur.”

If Matt LaFleur knew all along that the coaches and medical staff were going to play it safe with Bakhtiari and Jenkins – who were both coming out of a torn ACL in their left knee, with Bakhtiari arriving Dec. 31, 2020 at training and Jenkins’ on November 21, 2021 in a game against the Vikings at US Bank Stadium – the coach wasn’t about to admit it either.

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Just as LaFleur surely won’t raise his hand to the Chicago Bears before Sunday night’s primetime game at Lambeau Field. If the Packers have to wait another week (or more) to bring Bakhtiari and Jenkins back to the game, well, everyone will have to wait until the inactive roster is released 90 minutes before kickoff.

After all, when asked immediately after the loss to the Vikings when he knew he wouldn’t have Bakhtiari or Jenkins for the game, LaFleur ignored the question in his answer.

“Like we’ve said all along, Dave and Elgton are doing everything they can and are day to day,” he replied. “But certainly it puts a bit of pressure (on the attack). But that’s no excuse. We have to adapt. We have to adjust. We obviously didn’t. We must do better.

While LaFleur and the linemen criticized their performance against the Vikings, the line’s performance probably didn’t rank among the top three or four reasons the team lost. Even if you don’t rank on the curve of not having Bakhtiari or Jenkins, at least half of the four sacks could be considered coverage sacks where quarterback Aaron Rodgers held the ball longer than he should. wanted it.

And while short-range chess also goes back to the line, Rodgers said his decision to go for the run pick on their fourth and run/pass option goal plays at the 1-yard line – on which running back AJ Dillon was stuffed with no gain – wouldn’t have mattered if he had improvised and kept the ball himself.

Rodgers, who pointed to the line botching several blocking assignments on other plays among the offense’s mental errors, said he would have “gone in” for a touchdown on the fourth and goal play. he had kept the ball himself.

“There were a lot of good things and then there were some things that weren’t so good. I think, overall, that’s pretty much how we played most of the time,” he said. said LaFleur after criticizing the game’s movie. “There were some good times and some not so good ones.”

Nijman chose to focus on the lesser part of LaFleur’s assessment.

“We dropped four bags. If you give up four sacks, it’s not at our level,” Nijman said. “We were 0 for 2 on fourth down, we were 3 for 9 on third down – you can’t really win a game if you do that.

“It starts with us, first. We get a push on those third downs and on those fourth downs – especially the one on the goal line – so it’s probably a different game.

Added center Josh Myers: “Obviously I think we weren’t far from where we need to be. But there are just certain games that we can’t let happen. (So ​​that was) encouraging and frustrating at the same time, I guess.

“(Minnesota) did a good job with different looks and different blitzes. We just need to be tougher. You have to hold on longer. We haven’t blocked long enough.

To complicate matters for Sunday night, the line also lost left guard Jon Runyan to a concussion during the opening possession of the second half. Fourth-round rookie pick Zach Tom took over and played the final 30 offensive snaps there.

“It’s a difficult situation for him; first game in an environment like that,” Myers said. ” It’s hard. He did a good job getting in there.

With Runyan’s status uncertain, the Packers signed gigantic 6-foot-9 tackle Caleb Jones from the practice squad on Tuesday and placed No. 3 inside linebacker Krys Barnes on injured reserve with an ankle injury. / at the calf. Jones, an undrafted rookie from Indiana, impressed in camp but lost on the final roster cut to seventh-round pick Rasheed Walker for the backline.

If Bakhtiari, Jenkins and Runyan are all seated, the Packers would likely go with Nijman at left tackle, Tom at left guard, Myers at center, Jake Hanson at right guard and Newman at right tackle.

What if Bakhtiari and/or Jenkins get the green light?

“I mean, look, these are two All-Pro guys. Obviously that’s going to be super helpful,” Myers replied, “but if they’re not (there) then there’s no excuse. We have to be better than that.

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