The Green Bay Packers’ offensive line reunion lasted all of four plays.
The Packers were thrilled to go into Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field with Pro Bowl left guard-turned-left tackle Elgton Jenkins back in the lineup after he’d missed three games with an ankle injury. And with rookie center Josh Myers back after missing last week’s win over Cincinnati with a finger injury that dated back to the season-opener against New Orleans, the Packers had their modified preferred starting lineup — sans five-time All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, of course — finally back on the field together.
Then, Myers went down with a left knee injury on the opening drive of the game, meaning veteran backup Lucas Patrick had to come off the bench to replace him.
No matter. Despite facing one of the NFL’s best defenses, and despite a handful of poor plays, the Packers' juggling act was once again good enough, this time for a 24-14 victory over the Bears. Although quarterback Aaron Rodgers did absorb three sacks, Rodgers had ample time on many occasions and the Packers gained 154 yards on the ground.
“I mean, that front, it doesn’t matter who’s in there for them, they are ferocious. They come off the edge, they come up the middle, it’s a fast defense, they’re very physical. I mean, that is a legit defense,” said Packers coach Matt LaFleur, who transitioned from outside zone running plays to more gap-scheme runs after some early struggles. “Our guys up front, they battled to the whistle.”
Asked about the severity of Myers’ injury, LaFleur replied, “I don’t think it’s going to be a season-ender, but we’ll continue to look at it.”
Rodgers was especially pleased with Patrick, who started in Myers’ place last week and has been the next-man-up after losing his opening-day starting left guard spot to second-year man Jon Runyan.
“I’m really proud of Lucas. We sat down a couple Thursdays ago, had a real heart-to-heart. I love the kid. I have a lot of trust in him, a lot of respect for the way he goes about his business. He’s a pro’s pro,” Rodgers said. “I thought he handled things really well.
“I thought we did a nice job. We screwed up two protections that were easy ones and gave them a couple sacks. Robert (Quinn) is playing really well, and Khalil (Mack) is still elite — the best or (they’re) top-three defensive players in the league. So I like the way we battled up front.”
Jenkins admitted he felt rusty.
"First, second quarter, I was kind of slow to my assignment," Jenkins said. "I guess that was probably just knocking the rust off, not playing a game in three weeks. Came out the second half, I feel like I played better.
"We played better as an offensive line and as an offense as a whole."
Meanwhile, Rodgers hinted that Bakhtiari, who is on the physically unable to perform list and is eligible to start practicing this week, might be close to returning. Bakhtiari suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during a Dec. 31 practice and has been rehabbing from January surgery ever since.
Clark comes through
While Rodgers’ 6-yard touchdown run might’ve been the fourth-quarter play that got the most attention, defensive tackle Kenny Clark’s two sacks in a three-play span on the Bears’ final possession sealed the win. The Bears had driven to the Green Bay 32-yard line with 3 minutes, 39 seconds left in the game before Clark took over.
“It's just me being healthy. That's the biggest thing," Clark replied when asked what has been the difference in him of late. "As long as I'm healthy, I know that I'll be me. The second is just not worrying about anything but doing my job, making plays that come to me, being physical at the point of attack. I think my get-off this year has been a lot better than last year. That's a huge part of my game."
Ground and pound
The tandem of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon once again had a productive day, with Jones rushing 13 times for 76 yards, including a 28-yarder; Dillon running 11 times for 59 yards, including a 36-yarder; and Jones caught four passes for 34 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown.
That combined performance came after the duo combined for 188 total yards from scrimmage last week in a win over Cincinnati and 196 total yards in a win over Pittsburgh on Oct. 3.
“We just try to be a spark," Jones said. "In our room, we say if we can be that spark, we'll definitely help this offense get going. That's one thing we try to do every time we get out there."
In addition to losing Myers, the Packers also lost outside linebacker Preston Smith (oblique) and safety Darnell Savage (concussion) to injuries. Jonathan Garvin filled in for Smith while Henry Black took over for Savage. … With Kevin King (shoulder) inactive, Isaac Yiadom started in his place but lasted only the opening possession before being benched in favor of Rasul Douglas, whom the team added off the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad less than two weeks ago. … Corey Bojorquez had an 82-yard punt at the end of the third quarter, the second-longest punt in franchise history, behind only Don Chandler's 90-yarder in 1965.