Fri Dec 4 5:24pm ET
By STEVE MEGARGEE
AP Sports Writer
In this Oct. 27, 2019, file photo, Green Bay Packers offensive guard Elgton Jenkins (74) blocks Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann (56) during the first half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo. Jenkins has played every position on the offensive line but right guard this season. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
In this Oct. 18, 2020, file photo, Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Billy Turner (77) looks to block Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) during the first half of an NFL football game in Tampa, Fla. Turner has started six games at right tackle and three at left tackle this season. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken, File)
In this Nov. 15, 2020, file photo, Green Bay Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari (69) squares off against a Jacksonville Jaguars player during an NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis. Bakhtiari, a second-team AP All-Pro last season, returned to action last month after missing three games with a chest injury. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps, File)
The Green Bay Packers are shuffling their offensive line again this week due to injuries, with rookie guard Jon Runyan Jr. potentially making his first career start against his father's old team.
It's nothing new for a versatile line that has protected its quarterback as effectively as just about any team in the league.
''We've been able to roll a lot of guys in on the offensive line, started a lot of combinations,'' Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. ''That's not necessarily ideal, but our guys have done a great job.''
The latest injury involves center Corey Linsley, who won't play Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles (3-7-1) after hurting his knee in a 41-25 victory over the Chicago Bears. When Linsley left the Bears game, Green Bay shifted left guard Elgton Jenkins to center and inserted Runyan at left guard.
Runyan's father played for the Eagles from 2000-08 and is now the NFL's vice president of policy and rules administration.
''It's one of those games that I'm excited to get the opportunity to play in,'' said Runyan, a sixth-round draft pick from Michigan. ''Growing up, it's a team that I always watched ever since I was like 3 years old and pretty much all the way up until last year.''
The Packers already lost guard Lane Taylor to a season-ending knee injury in their opener. Left tackle David Bakhtiari, an Associated Press All-Pro second-team selection last year, missed three games with a chest injury.
Yet the Packers have averaged a league-high 31.7 points per game while allowing only 12 sacks. The Pittsburgh Steelers are the only NFL team to give up fewer sacks than the Packers this season. The Indianapolis Colts also have allowed only 12 sacks.
Green Bay's offensive line is coming off arguably its best performance of the season. The Packers yielded no sacks and rushed for 182 yards against the Bears' highly regarded defense despite losing Linsley and right guard Lucas Patrick. Patrick has practiced on a limited basis this week with a toe injury.
''Shuffling around the line, that's been something we've been doing all year,'' Bakhtiari said. ''You have to tip your hat to Elgton Jenkins. You have to tip your hat to Billy Turner. Those guys are extremely versatile and can play multiple positions and play multiple positions at a high level.''
Jenkins has played every position on the line but right guard this season. Turner has made six starts at right tackle and three at left tackle, but he also has played guard.
Their versatility has enabled the Packers to utilize their best five linemen rather than playing someone who isn't as good just because he's the only guy who can fill a particular spot.
''These guys are professionals, man,'' offensive line coach Adam Stenavich said. ''It's a testament to their mentality and how they approach things that they're able to go out there at different positions and perform well.''
Both Jenkins and Turner already were accustomed to playing multiple positions. Jenkins started games at every offensive line position but right guard at Mississippi State. Turner has started NFL games at both tackle and both guard spots.
That makes a position change midway through a game more manageable, but it's still not an easy process.
''Being able to, in the middle of a game, go from one side to the other, it's not necessarily the physical part,'' Turner said. ''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.'''
The Packers have figured things out well enough to allow one sack or less in 10 of their 11 games this season, something quarterback Aaron Rodgers pointed out Sunday night.
''For a soon-to-be 37-year-old, that's my dream,'' Rodgers said. ''That's an amazing feeling, to go home and not be feeling like an almost-37-year-old.''
Rodgers now actually is 37 after celebrating his birthday Wednesday. That should give this line even more incentive to continue protecting him as well as it has all season.
NOTES: Outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith didn't practice for a second straight day Friday due to an ankle injury. He's listed as questionable for Sunday's game. LaFleur said he's ''not overly concerned about it'' but added that it's something that Smith has been dealing with all season. . Linebacker Krys Barnes (calf) and running back/kick returner Tyler Ervin (ribs) also are questionable.
Free-agent CB Tramon Williams (Ravens) worked out for the Green Bay Packers Wednesday, Jan. 20, and is expected to sign to either the practice squad or the 53-man roster.
Cleveland Browns DT Larry Ogunjobi said he'll assess his options in free agency as it's unknown if he'll return to the Browns. 'When I go into training this offseason, just kind of figure out what fits best for me and then obviously when you get into March, you figure out where the team wants you as, what they see you as and what role they want you to play here or somewhere else,' Ogunjobi said Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II (quadriceps) and wide receivers Mike Evans (knee) and Chris Godwin (quadriceps) were all limited participants during Wednesday's practice. Jones was able to practice in a limited fashion last week before ultimately suiting up against the Saints, while Evans' and Godwin's reps are being managed as precautions. Jones has a good matchup against Green Bay's front, though he and Leonard Fournette are trending towards a timeshare after head coach Bruce Arians described them as a "1-2 punch." Meanwhile, Evans will likely tango with star corner Jaire Alexander on the outside, as tough a matchup as any. Godwin is due for a rebound performance after dropping a surefire touchdown last week and could see more targets if Evans struggles and Antonio Brown (knee) is banged up.
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson is wanted on a long-term contract, according to head coach John Harbaugh Wednesday, Jan. 20. 'Absolutely, we want Lamar to sign a long-term deal and be with us,' Harbaugh said. 'I'm totally certain that's going to happen. When it happens, that's the details.'
Fantasy Spin: Harbaugh also said they aren't going to adjust the offense to be more pass-heavy. So long as Jackson is healthy, he'll be a top fantasy QB for the foreseeable future due to his added production on the ground.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones (quadriceps) said Wednesday, Jan. 20, he already feels better than last week and he's all good for the NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (knee) was listed as a non-participant for Wednesday's practice. Brown sustained the knee injury during the divisional-round win over the Saints, with Tampa Bay officially listing him as day-to-day. The veteran wideout will look to ramp up his activity during Thursday and Friday's sessions to give him a chance at suiting up against Green Bay in the NFC title game. Fellow wideouts Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson- who both made big plays in the victory over New Orleans- would be in line to receive more targets if Brown isn't healthy enough to play.
Philadelphia Eagles DB Nickell Robey-Coleman was removed from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Indianapolis Colts RB Jordan Wilkins was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Green Bay Packers LB Krys Barnes (thumb), PK Mason Crosby (shoulder), RB AJ Dillon (quadriceps), DL Kingsley Keke (concussion), TE Marcedes Lewis (knee), LB Za'Darius Smith (thumb), WR Equanimeous St. Brown (knee, ankle), OT Ricky Wagner (knee) and RB Jamaal Williams (ankle) were limited at practice Wednesday, Jan. 20. S Will Redmond (knee) practiced in full.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (hip, quadriceps) was limited at practice Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Godwin caught four of seven targets but for just 34 yards against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Round. The Buccaneers' passing game wasn't needed much as Tampa Bay operated from favorable field position for much of the game. Godwin, Mike Evans and Antonio Brown should all see more work against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship. Godwin is likely to see the most targets.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones (finger, calf) was a limited participant at practice Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Jones ran 13 times for 62 yards against the New Orleans Saints last week after being considered questionable for most of the practice week. He should be more involved this week, but the game script isn't likely to be as favorable for the Bucs as it was in the NFC Divisional Round. Jones will be a touchdown-dependent fantasy FLEX option this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) didn't participate in practice Wednesday, Jan. 20. S Jordan Whitehead (knee) and CB Sean Murphy-Bunting (quadriceps, ankle) were limited. DL Jeremiah Ledbetter (calf) and G Ali Marpet (pectoral) practiced in full.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown (knee) didn't participate in practice Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Brown is expected to be fine in time for Sunday's NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. He'll represent a contrarian pivot from either Mike Evans or Chris Godwin.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (knee) was a limited participant at practice Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Evans didn't practice much last week and was targeted just three times in the NFC Divisional Round game against the New Orleans Saints. His day was saved by a three-yard touchdown catch, but it was his only reception. He should be more involved in the NFC Championship with another week of recovery under his belt.
Buffalo Bills WR Stefon Diggs (oblique) was limited during practice Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Diggs has posted at least 100 yards in five of his last six games and is a must-start fantasy option if he is active for the game.
Buffalo Bills DT Vernon Butler (quadriceps) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Jan. 20. QB Jake Fromm (non-injury) and DT Quinton Jefferson (ankle) were limited during practice. PK Tyler Bass (hand), LB Tremaine Edmunds (hamstring) and DE Darryl X. Johnson (knee) fully participated in practice.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (oblique) remains on the injury report and was a limited practice participant on Wednesday. Diggs has been battling an oblique injury late this season, but it hasn't really slowed him down at all. The NFL's leader in receptions and receiving yards in 2020, the 27-year-old has 14 catches on 20 targets for 234 yards and two touchdowns in the team's two playoff tilts against the Colts and Ravens this year. Diggs was able to haul in six of his eight targets for 46 yards and a touchdown in the first meeting with the Chiefs back in Week 6 in a 26-17 loss. With quarterback Josh Allen having a breakout season under center, Diggs has been one of the most valuable fantasy wideouts this season, and that shouldn't change in the AFC Championship this Sunday.
Updating a previous report, Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (concussion, toe) is now listed as limited during practice Wednesday, Jan. 20. He was initially listed as a full participant Wednesday.
Fantasy Spin: Mahomes is going through the concussion protocol but may be able to do more during practice over the next few days. He is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL when healthy and should be a starting option if he is active.
Buffalo Bills rookie wide receiver Gabriel Davis (ankle) and defensive tackle Vernon Butler (quadriceps) both missed practice on Wednesday. Davis injured his ankle in the Divisional Round win over the Ravens last Saturday night. As of right now, the impressive 21-year-old should be considered questionable to play against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship on Sunday, but keep an eye on his practice status through the rest of the week. He was unable to haul in any of his four targets against Baltimore's defense last week after going for four catches and 85 yards in the wild-card win over Indianapolis the week prior. He's hard to trust for consistent production behind Stefon Diggs, John Brown and Cole Beasley. If Davis can't play this weekend, Isaiah McKenzie could see an expanded role.