The Green Bay Packers had to do some shuffling on their offensive line prior to last Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. They’ll have to do more this week against the Detroit Lions.
Lane Taylor went down with a right knee injury in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game at Minnesota. After undergoing an MRI on Monday, Taylor learned the injury would require surgery and force him to miss the rest of the season.
“My heart goes out to him,” Coach Matt LaFleur said Monday. “Just battling back from the significant injury that he had last year (torn biceps) and to get to a position where he was in our starting lineup, certainly he will be missed. I feel bad for him as an athlete, as a man.”
The Packers also lost Lucas Patrick (shoulder), who started the game at left guard. That meant Elgton Jenkins, who started the game at right tackle, moved back to his normal position at left guard. Rookie Jon Runyan replaced Taylor at right guard and Rick Wagner entered the game at right tackle. Wagner (former Badger) has seven years of NFL experience as a starter and performed well.
Many teams would have experienced turmoil with that much change during a game, but the Packers handled the shuffling well. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn’t sacked the entire game, which is a great sign for any offensive line, let alone a line that had to undergo some major changes right in the middle of a game.
How will LaFleur handle the line this week against the Detroit Lions? There’s a chance that veteran Billy Turner will be healthy enough to return to the lineup. If that is the case, Turner could return to right guard, where he started last season and allow Wagner to continue to play right tackle.
LaFleur spent all of training camp telling reporters that he would line up with his top five offensive linemen and he proved that out when moving Elgton Jenkins to right tackle to start against the Vikings, instead of moving Rick Wagner into the lineup at that spot immediately. LaFleur wants the best five available offensive linemen on the field at the same time and could take the entire week to figure out who those players are.