Expect Competition for Week 1 Starting RT Opening

Yosh Nijman will certainly have the opportunity to compete for the Green Bay Packers starting right tackle opening, but it isn't going to be given to him.

Last season, in particular, we saw how important depth along the offensive line can be. Throughout the course of the season, the Green Bay Packers utilized seven different offensive line configurations as they dealt with injuries.

However, at this point in the offseason, there certainly doesn't appear to be that same level of depth--especially at offensive tackle. Although David Bakhtiari will return, we don't know how much time Elgton Jenkins will miss. Meanwhile, players like Cole Van Lanen and Royce Newman -- former college tackles -- are going to be better suited at guard.

So given the current makeup of the offensive tackle position for the Green Bay Packers, Yosh Nijman is the assumed Week 1 starter at right tackle. However, when meeting with reporters last week, both offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich and offensive line coach Luke Butkus echoed similar sentiments, saying that Nijman will "get a shot" at right tackle, but it is not set in stone that he will be the Week 1 starter.

Prior to last season, we didn't know much about Nijman or where he was at in his development. We knew he had the physical tools, but from the outside looking in, that was about all we knew. But due to injuries, he would get an opportunity, and he held up well for the most part--with some assistance along the way.

With Nijman at left tackle and other young players scattered across the offensive line, the Green Bay passing game relied heavily on quick passes to get the ball out of Aaron Rodgers' hands. Tight ends also played an important role in chipping as a way to help Nijman as well. As a whole, the offensive line wasn't as dominant as they were in 2020--although that should have been expected with all of the injuries and movement that took place. 

According to PFF, Nijman allowed three sacks and 20 pressures in 356 pass-blocking snaps last season. In terms of pass-blocking efficiency, Nijman ranked 44th out of 88 eligible tackles. Again, all things considered, he held up well--the Packers did still manage to win 13 games afterall.

However, whether the decision was right or wrong, it is telling that the coaching staff opted to start Billy Turner at left tackle against San Francisco, which was his first game back from injury. Perhaps the coaching staff just isn't as high on Nijman as many in the fan base are. 

In order to create that needed competition for Nijman at right tackle, the Packers are going to have to go outside of the organization to find it. In that same  interview with reporters, Stenavich would mention that Green Bay still needs to add a "guy or two" this offseason.

The depth at one of the game's most important positions may be quite thin right now, with Bakhtiari and Nijman as the only healthy options on the roster, but that can change quickly. If the Packers spend one of the seven picks that they have within the first four rounds on a tackle and also sign a Dennis Kelly or Rick Wagner-like veteran in free agency, the offensive tackle depth all of a sudden goes from thin to fairly stout--especially once Jenkins returns. 

This will also create some healthy competition for Nijman as well, who hasn't played right tackle since his final year at Virginia Tech. And while that move from the left side to the right -- or vice versa -- can be overlooked, as Turner has told us in the past, it isn't that easy:

"This is something that I heard Packers legend Josh Sitton say a few years ago in Miami, and that is, 'It's like wiping your (butt) with your opposite hand.' And if you've ever tried that, I'm sure you know," Turner said via Packers.com. "So, being able to, in the middle of a game, go from one side to the other, it's not necessarily the physical part. You know you're capable of physically doing those actions, those techniques that you've practiced for so long.

"It's really just the mental aspect to tell yourself, 'OK, instead of pushing with this leg I have to push with the opposite. Instead of throwing this hand first, I have to use this hand.' It's the weight distribution and the mentality when you're in sync during a game, you kind of get in the zone and you just get in this mood of doing everything in the right way. And it's just kind of a flow. It's hard to explain."

You have to believe that Nijman has as good of a shot as anyone to win that starting right tackle job out of training camp, but it's important to remember that he will have to earn it and it won't be handed to him. And in order to earn it, the Packers are going to have to add to the position, whether that be in free agency, the draft, or both.

If Nijman, or whoever ends up as the right tackle, can provide the Packers with a reliable presence at the position, it will give Green Bay the option to keep Jenkins inside once he returns, which will then provide a big boost to the interior offensive line unit as well.

"I think [competing] is a very important thing for him (Nijman)," Stenavich said via Packer Report. "This offseason is just to take that next step forward to see if we can count on him to be a reliable starter."

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Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

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5 points

Comments (48)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
stockholder's picture

April 18, 2022 at 11:16 am

Nijman isn't the long term answer. He's a back -up. And if the packers didn't need to replace MVS and Adams. Gutey would take two OL in rd. 1.

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LLCHESTY's picture

April 18, 2022 at 02:46 pm

You think Gutey would just lie to us like that? Could be.

"With Yosh, first of all, you’ve got to give him a lot of credit through the last three years just his work ethic and his consistency working,” Gutekunst told reporters at the NFL’s spring meetings in Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday.

“I think he just needed an opportunity. It’s probably as much my fault as anybody. We kept bringing in veteran guys at tackle to shore up kind of that third tackle spot, which never really gave him the opportunity. Once he got the opportunity, he certainly performed exceptionally well. So, very proud of him and his work ethic and what he accomplished when he was given the opportunity.”

I think he's going to be given a chance to be that starter at RT. I'd also bet he wins the job, at least until Jenkins returns. Jenkins replaces the weakest link.

12 points
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stockholder's picture

April 18, 2022 at 01:05 pm

I think Gutey still wants him. Only because he needs Wrs

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jannes bjornson's picture

April 18, 2022 at 02:15 pm

He wants him as the swing guy. The chatter was a smokescreen; otherwise, he would have started in the Playoff Game. The starting RT will be drafted in round two, or the first. Van Lanen will be in the mix at Guard, but there is good value in round four-five for that spot. The WALL must be fortified. Two wides from this draft with high picks and they will be semi-solid. Who knows? All the speed at WR,CB and LBs , get some.

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greengold's picture

April 18, 2022 at 03:20 pm

Stockholder,
You on a Tilt-A-Whirl, grasping at any straw that goes by? Again?

WHAAA-OHHHHHHHH!!!

What the hell do you think a swing tackle is, anyway? Yosh is a very valuable player on the Packers. Why am I not surprised you have zero appreciation for him..? And then you do? And, then you don’t?

Nijman can play both sides of our OL at OT equally well. I’d love to hear Bakhtiari comment on this continued dissing of Yosh. I think we might know what he’d say…

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stockholder's picture

April 18, 2022 at 03:51 pm

Not grasping at anything. Just saying he wouldn't be the starter if we didn't need WRs. Gutey is blowing hot air up your butts. He should have drafted a Rt after Bulaga left. He's protecting his back after Patrick and Turner left.

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MooPack's picture

April 18, 2022 at 11:29 am

Unless Trevor Penning falls, I'd take Abe Lucas in the 2nd.

2 points
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stockholder's picture

April 18, 2022 at 01:07 pm

I like Raimann more than Penning.

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LLCHESTY's picture

April 18, 2022 at 02:47 pm

Raimann is an old. Packers don't draft old early.

1 points
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Leatherhead's picture

April 18, 2022 at 02:52 pm

I'm wondering if maybe the thinking on this shouldn't change. In this day and age, whatever age the player is, he's the property of the team for four years, maybe five. Since men typically mature physically in their mid-to-late 20s, you could make the argument that Raimann is physically more mature.

In all my simulations, I take two OL somewhere between around #40 and #75 or so. Sometimes, I take Raimann. My only real question is whether he can come in and start on Day 1.

1 points
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Leatherhead's picture

April 18, 2022 at 02:52 pm

I'm wondering if maybe the thinking on this shouldn't change. In this day and age, whatever age the player is, he's the property of the team for four years, maybe five. Since men typically mature physically in their mid-to-late 20s, you could make the argument that Raimann is physically more mature.

In all my simulations, I take two OL somewhere between around #40 and #75 or so. Sometimes, I take Raimann. My only real question is whether he can come in and start on Day 1.

-1 points
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stockholder's picture

April 18, 2022 at 03:54 pm

I had him going at #53. Most have a First rd grade on him. They just sent the OL Coach to Central Mi. What does that tell you. This is more than due diligence.

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jannes bjornson's picture

April 18, 2022 at 04:08 pm

24 is not old considering a covid year int he mix. Soccer as a kid gives him the footwork to play OT

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greengold's picture

April 18, 2022 at 03:06 pm

I love Abe Lucas. He’ll be good value, but really not plug & play if you want to run to his side. He needs some developing there. Pass blocking? I’m 100 % confident he’d do just fine.

2 points
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GTPack's picture

April 18, 2022 at 11:56 am

Bahktiari’s knee issues every time he started practicing and needing his knee drained is a very ominous sign for his future as well. I think OT will be higher on the priority list than most think. This draft is deeper with quality WR’s than starting OT’s so I believe they will take one early and at least another one in the mid rounds.

14 points
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stockholder's picture

April 18, 2022 at 03:58 pm

But the peanut gallery is arguing Nijman will be the answer. So we shouldn't draft a OT.

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greengold's picture

April 18, 2022 at 11:57 am

Protecting Rodgers’ blind side, all things considered, he did well facing Bosa, Hendrickson, Garrett, Quinn and the like, starting his 8 games. Wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he has success on the other side at RT. He started all 4 years at VT, two at RT, two at LT. In Yosh I trust.

12 points
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Coldworld's picture

April 18, 2022 at 12:09 pm

As you say, he played RT initially in college. Generally the concern is going the other way. If he can hold up as well as he did at left last year, I’m not worried. Not that competition is not a good thing, because without it we have no depth whatsoever.

5 points
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greengold's picture

April 18, 2022 at 12:42 pm

Totally agree. Injury is always something to prepare for.

Let’s consider too that Gutekunst might be looking elsewhere than the draft to add OTs who can step right in at the NFL level.

Seems short sighted to only look to the very top of the draft to add your rainy day backups, just in case, or to challenge for a starting position. I mean, the success rate there is far better in FA, via trade, or at roster cuts to 53, for adding Pro ready talent at OT.

Nearly all rookie OTs require time for strength, technique development.

We currently have 5 players total who can, have played or play exclusively OT:

David Bakhtiari
Yosh Nijman
Elgton Jenkins
Royce Newman
Dennis Kelly (if he re-signs with GB)

Let’s face it. We are going to have to use every avenue at our disposal to add depth to this group. Looking at the roster, our whole OL requires significant adds, and the draft is just going to be one avenue.

This all really makes me wonder more about tapping a versatile OL like Zion Johnson with one of our R1s..? Much like Elgton Jenkins. I like Zion a ton. Great player to consider up there. Tyler Smith too.

2 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

April 18, 2022 at 01:25 pm

With all the quality depth at OT in this draft, Kelly is an afterthought. He will be option after the draft if Gutey doesn't get at least two OTs with versatility to play interior. Maybe even 3 OL guys.

You are correct, G&G...Pack has many options for the best 5 on the OL with so much versatility...but the depth has thinned and and the OL room needs more men.

3 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

April 18, 2022 at 02:33 pm

Kelly is busy playing golf.

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greengold's picture

April 18, 2022 at 02:50 pm

Aren’t they all golfing right now?

Bashing Kelly seems a tad off the mark. Dennis Kelly played some pretty f-ing good football, taking over for Billy Turner week 13. Put in a solid stretch for 4 games or so. Then, some nitwit decision had him starting against Bosa in the playoffs. Was that really Dennis Kelly’s fault?

Hoping Kelly’s having the round of his life right now, and that he decides to come back to re-sign with the Packers, for sure. Development. Huge upside. In system. Smart to keep him, while adding more.

I don’t know this, but I’ll put money on the game Yosh gave up his most of the 3 sacks he had on the season, was that dumpster fire garbage LaFleur called for Jordan Love vs. KC. Chiefs we’re weak as shit v. the run, and LaFleur calls Love’s first NFL start as if Aaron Rodgers was starting.

Our entire OL was getting destroyed ignoring our own top rushing attack that day.

Take that one game out, and I’ll put money on it Yosh starts v. Bosa in the playoffs, and maybe we overcome the stench that still lingers.

3 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

April 18, 2022 at 03:13 pm

Kelly was beat consistently vs the 49rs. If they bring him back, it would be vet's minimum. His knees have taken a toll in ten years working the mosh pit.

-1 points
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Coldworld's picture

April 18, 2022 at 06:31 pm

He was cheap last year. I wouldn’t be shocked at a depth signing like that.

0 points
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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 19, 2022 at 04:08 am

Stenovich said it was his decision to put Turner at LT and Kelly at RT. For various reasons, fans think the world of Steno so a pass was given or his statement went unnoticed.

Nijman did well grading on a curve, but AR had the fastest release time of his career for a reason, and I doubt it was choice. PFF gave both Turner and Kelly good grades for the playoff game. I think Steno is a good OL coach. The personnel decision I question is Patrick instead of Newman. Oh, well.

2 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

April 18, 2022 at 02:49 pm

I'd say no to Zion Johnson. Travis Jones tossed him around like a blocking dummy at the Senior Bowl.

2 points
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greengold's picture

April 18, 2022 at 02:55 pm

Pretty sure you cancel out the entire draft class at OL then… LOL.

Moving on… Wide Receiver! Whatdyagot here, CHESTY?

1 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

April 18, 2022 at 04:31 pm

Not at all, I just question using a 1st round pick on a guy that got ragdolled repeatedly when it was best vs best. I did see he had a good week other than with Jones and Winfrey. If they're looking at IOL help I like Cole Strange in the 4th. Fits all the metrics the Packers look for with OL, especially the agilities.

0 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

April 18, 2022 at 02:57 pm

GG,
I like Zion but my understanding it is Green who plays 4 of the 5 OL positions (not center). Think they will first draft an OT, but if not keep eye on Green

3 points
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Renllaw's picture

April 19, 2022 at 06:39 am

I love Green's film, but his 5.3 RAS might have him off the Packers board in round 1. I would take him though. He just wins every snap. Watch his Alabama film and you want to throw the RAS out the window.

2 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

April 18, 2022 at 01:01 pm

It is mildly irritating to me to read that LT, LG, C, RG are already locks but Yosh at RT is not. Is it because Newman out performed Nijman with his snaps? That most certainly was not the case. Yosh is more of a lock at RT than Newman is at RG.

Man, I want Bakht back full strength but I am worried about that knee. ACLs have ended many a football career, especially with older players. I do not want to write this, but David is still not a lock at LT due to that danged knee.

And you make a very good observation, CW, that Nijman has already learned to play RT and adjust to Sitton's bathroom analogy. (Sitton was certainly colorful in his analogies!). The decision to bench him in the playoffs was based on a hunch by Stenovich...certainly not on past performance, and it backfired...badly. I just wish Steno and/or Matt would admit they screwed up.

Many do not realize Yosh was recruited to VT as a DL...and only began to learn OL as a college freshman. He has only improved his skills every year. Every year. The young man is an athletic specimen and very intelligent. He has the "can do, will do" attitude that shows up as behavior on the field.

6 points
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MooPack's picture

April 18, 2022 at 01:18 pm

Yep, One of the reasons I like RT Abraham Lucas in the 2nd and G Zach Tom in the 4th. Or take your own draft combo.

If Nijman and Newman beat out Lucas and Tom respectively, so be it. But rookie lineman do and have started with pretty good results. You then get some good depth.

If the rookies beat out the two vets, ok. The Packers have a couple of good swing linemen in Nijman and Newman.

If Bakh and/or Jenkins struggle, crossing myself, and I'm not Catholic, then they have Nijman/Lucas/some other vet at the Tackles and Runyan/Tom/Newman at guards. They need two. A Tackle, at least, and a Guard. Let's pray it doesn't come to that.

7 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

April 18, 2022 at 02:29 pm

A very sound option.

-1 points
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Archie777's picture

April 18, 2022 at 03:30 pm

Gutey can't be too worried about ROT since he let Turner go for a relatively modest cap savings.

6 points
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beerandbrats's picture

April 18, 2022 at 12:29 pm

Good article Paul. It's a shame that the coaching staff decided to mess with the OL in the playoffs. I thought Nijmin did a pretty good job this year considering AR12 won MVP with him protecting the blind side. I didn't expect the Packers to hand Nijmin the RT job but it sure sounds like there is a lack of confidence in him. It's looking like the Packers are going to have to pick up a starting RT in this draft!

7 points
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Leatherhead's picture

April 18, 2022 at 01:31 pm

Trade down our #28 to Minnesota for their second and third round picks, and then use both of them to draft offensive linemen. That way we can get two horses instead of one.

Jenkins is injured, Bakhtiari has been injured a long time, and Myers missed most of last season. These guys we're drafting will probably end up being starters at some point this season.

-4 points
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blondy45's picture

April 18, 2022 at 02:16 pm

Add a 6th round pick in the above Min. trade LH, then I am all in! I still hope Jax is in a trading up mode though.

0 points
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stockholder's picture

April 18, 2022 at 04:16 pm

If anything, you're going to see a trade up. Can you say Twice. The problem is the 3rd and 4s. They don't fit, if you take a OT early. Lbs are usually gone by the end of 2, if they're fast. Whatever he takes early, doesn't fit late. And thats why I fit a TE or Carson Strong in.

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Packer_Fan's picture

April 18, 2022 at 02:06 pm

I just want Bak and Jenkins playing tackle when the playoffs begin.

0 points
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Leatherhead's picture

April 18, 2022 at 02:59 pm

That would mean that Bakhtiari stayed healthy all season. As for where Jenkins plays when he returns, that'll depend largely on the need. Long term, this is probably Bakhtiari's last year and Jenkins is our future at LT, because it's going to take LT money to keep him in Green Bay.

1 points
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Guam's picture

April 18, 2022 at 02:57 pm

I think the major O-line variable for the Packers is not Nijman, but Bahk's and Jenkins' health. If Bahk is truly recovered from his ACL and Jenkins is progressing well, then the Packers will eventually have Bahk and Jenkins at tackle with Nijman as a swing reserve. Do you really want a high draft choice sitting on the bench as a fourth OT for most of this year? I would certainly expect a developmental tackle to be drafted (rounds 3-5) in this scenario, but not a round one or two pick.

If either Bahk's knee or Jenkins' knee are in question, then the Packers will need to pick a round one or round two OT.

Nijman has proven his value well enough to certainly be a swing reserve tackle as well as an interim starting RT until Jenkins returns. If the Packers draft an OT high, I think that says a lot more about the state of either Bahk's or Jenkins' recovery than is does about Nijman.

5 points
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greengold's picture

April 18, 2022 at 05:06 pm

Guam, I couldn’t have said it better. That’s really what makes me think Gutekunst is waiting to see how this draft shakes out, looking to address a possible starting caliber backup via FA, roster cuts or trade, while replenishing OT depth in later rounds, in what truly is a deep OT class.

Most rookies require more time to get up to speed at the Pro level. We’ve been spoiled with Bak & Elgton, both of whom are outliers, if not simply outside the norm for their levels of early career play.

This is the fun part, to me. Seeing what they do on the personnel side in their quest to put us in the best possible position moving forward.

2 points
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Johnblood27's picture

April 19, 2022 at 07:01 am

Nobody drafts for back-ups.

You draft with the expectation that player will be able to compete at the NFL level and the sooner, the better.

Then your decision is how to fit or how to move the NFL caliber players to best benefit your team.

Having too many good players is a much better problem than how to field an NFL quality starting line up.

No players career lasts forever, talent erodes, motivation wanes, better alternatives join the team. Don't ever assume that a guy that played at X level in year Y will be at least at level X in year Y+1. Players go up and players go down. Mostly these performance trends follow age but not always. "Fans' always look at jumps in player performance, realists also look at who is or might be in decline as well.

Draft the premium positions with the view to that player dislodging a current player, that is a positive winning mentality. But... keep the evaluation of performance objective with no "allowance" for draft position. DO or DO NOT, there is no TRY...

1 points
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Leatherhead's picture

April 18, 2022 at 03:04 pm

I'd rather start a rookie and use Nijman for swing than start Nijman and have a rookie responsible backing up both spots. But not a Developmental Day 3/UDFA guy. A real player who has played at a high level against real good competition

NOTHING will derail this season faster than Rodgers getting injured. Get guys in front of him.

0 points
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greengold's picture

April 18, 2022 at 03:13 pm

Eh. Give me Jordan Love to bring this puppy home, all day. You wouldn’t see me cryin’ about Rodgers going down. Sorry. That’s how I feel about it.

I’ll believe Aaron Rodgers is all-in, wanting to help guide this team to winning another Super Bowl when I see it. He burned any trust I had in him to the ground. Nuked it.

1 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

April 18, 2022 at 08:30 pm

GG,
Man glad someone was bold enough to say that. I have had same thought for a year now. Yes, he nuked any feelings I had.

1 points
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Johnblood27's picture

April 19, 2022 at 07:02 am

you beat me to it... but just barely!

I am also on the change train.

1 points
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Pro-LifeMatters's picture

April 19, 2022 at 07:58 am

"Bakhtiari will return", "Bakhtiari and Nijman are the only healthy options". Where the hell are you getting your information from? I've seen absolutely nothing to indicate Bakhtiari is healthy and will return. I'm leaning more to th chance that he will never play again. I think it's a stretch to assume he will return.

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