The Green Bay Packers’ offensive line has its biggest test yet in Week 8 against the blitz-happy Minnesota Vikings, but left guard Elgton Jenkins understands how to stop Vikings standout pass rusher Danielle Hunter. “Zach Tom,” Jenkins told reporters at his locker following Thursday’s practice”.
“Zach just going out there and doing his job, just doing the gameplan. I feel like the guy that we’ve got, he’s a good player, and it’s gonna be a battle, but he’ll definitely get it done.”
Over the first six games of the 2023 season, Tom has been the most consistent member of the Packers’ offensive line, allowing zero sacks and 12 pressures in his new role as starting right tackle. Hunter, on the other hand, gives him with another elite-caliber challenge after facing Aidan Hutchinson and Maxx Crosby in the previous month.
Hunter has nine sacks and 12 tackles for loss in the Vikings’ first seven games and has only finished one without bringing a sack — against Carolina in Week 4. If Jordan Love and the Packers offense are to get back on track against a division opponent, they will need Tom to be at his best.
Danielle Hunter is a concern for most offensive lines, but he is catching the Packers at an advantageous time — for him — given their ongoing trench difficulties.
The Packers had every reason to assume that their offensive line will be a strength in 2023. Five-time All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari and two-time Pro Bowler Jenkins formed one of the league’s most efficient left-side tandems. They also anticipated continuing development from some of their more seasoned lineman, including center Josh Myers, guard Jon Runyan Jr., and tackle Yosh Nijman.
Instead, the Packers are still looking for answers less than two months into the season. Bakhtiari will miss another season due to his latest knee surgery. And his replacement, Rasheed Walker, has given up a team-high two sacks and 13 pressures while attempting to defend quarterback Jordan Love’s blindside.
Without Bakhtiari anchoring their line, the Packers’ other senior starters have struggled to meet the task. According to Pro Football Focus, Bakhtiari (68.6) and Tom (82.1) are the only two Packers offensive lineman with average or superior run-blocking rankings. Even Jenkins, who missed two games due to injury, has struggled to live up to his two-time Pro Bowl status.