GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Jordan Love spent much of the night running for his life. On the infrequent occasions that Love handed the ball off, Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon had nowhere to run.
The pressure is on an injury-riddled offensive line as the Green Bay Packers attempt to bounce back from a 34-20 home loss to the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions. Coach Matt LaFleur isn’t ruling out lineup changes as he tries to find a combination that works.
“I think everything’s open,” LaFleur said Friday.
Green Bay entered the season believing the left side of its line was one of its biggest strengths with David Bakhtiari at tackle and Elgton Jenkins at guard, but both have been injured for much of the season.
The Packers placed Bakhtiari on injured reserve Thursday. When LaFleur was asked after Thursday’s game whether Bakhtiari would be back this season, the coach declined to comment. Jenkins has missed two straight games with a sprained medial collateral ligament.
Bakhtiari tore the ACL in his left knee on on Dec. 31, 2020, and has struggled to stay on the field since. He played in one game in 2021 and 11 games last season, missing three due to the knee injury and three more while recovering from an appendectomy. Bakhtiari started and played well in a season-opening victory at Chicago but had a setback afterward.
With Bakhtiari and Jenkins out, the Packers have been using Rasheed Walker at left tackle and Royce Newman at left guard. Walker is a 2022 seventh-round pick who didn’t play a single offensive snap as a rookie. Newman made 16 starts as a rookie in 2021 but had fallen out of favor since.
Green Bay’s injury-riddled line didn’t stand a chance against Detroit’s formidable front. Love was sacked five times, four in the first half as the Lions built a 27-3 lead. The Packers had 12 carries for 27 yards, in part because they continually put themselves in obvious passing situations. Green Bay faced third-and-19 and third-and-16 during its first two series.
LaFleur said the Packers got “manhandled.”
“Obviously we’re disappointed with the way that we played, and we understand that it wasn’t good enough,” center Josh Myers said.
Bakhtiari and Jenkins aren’t the only linemen dealing with ailments.
Right tackle Zach Tom played through a knee injury he suffered four days earlier in Green Bay’s win over New Orleans. Right guard Jon Runyan Jr. sprained an ankle early in the game but played through it. Neither player was as effective as usual.
“They said that’s basically what happens in basketball when you come down and land on someone,” Runyan said. “It’s just like a really bad rolled ankle.”
The Packers have some extra time to work this out. They don’t play again until they visit the Las Vegas Raiders (1-2) on Monday, Oct. 9.
One positive element of the Packers’ first-half breakdowns in their last two games is they’ve shown an ability to rally. They outscored the Lions 17-7 in the second half Thursday after scoring 18 unanswered points in the final 11 minutes to erase a 17-point deficit against the Saints.
WHAT NEEDS WORK
The Packers can’t run or stop the run. They’re gaining just 3.3 yards per carry and 74.5 yards rushing per game, and they’re allowing 4.5 yards per carry and 150.3 yards rushing per game.
WR Romeo Doubs had nine catches for 95 yards, both career highs. … K Anders Carlson made field goals from 34 and 50 yards. The rookie sixth-round pick is 9 of 9 on extra points and 5 of 5 on field goals, including two from 50 yards or more.
Newman and Runyan both struggled to get any type of push as the Packers were unable to run the ball or protect Love. Runyan had a holding penalty on Green Bay’s second series after Aidan Hutchinson got past him for a sack on the Packers’ opening possession. … Dillon had five carries for 11 yards and is averaging 2.7 yards per carry.
CB Jaire Alexander missed a second straight game with a back issue. Jones and WR Christian Watson played Thursday but had limited workloads as they returned from hamstring injuries. LaFleur said he’s hopeful both can have bigger workloads against the Raiders.
24 — The Lions’ halftime advantage. That’s the Packers’ third-biggest halftime deficit at Lambeau Field. They trailed 31-0 midway through a 38-10 loss to the New York Jets in 2006 and were down 28-0 at the half of a 31-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in 1973.
The Packers will play just one game over a 23-day span. They have a bye after the game at Las Vegas. They play at Denver on Oct. 22 and won’t return to Lambeau Field until they host Minnesota on Oct. 29.
TOP PHOTO: FILE – Green Bay Packers helmets lay on the ground during a practice session at their NFL minicamp Wednesday, June 13, 2018, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)