GREEN BAY – For four years, Elgton Jenkins has been whatever the Packers have needed him to be on any given week.
To his credit, the versatile veteran has consistently performed at a Pro Bowl level despite rarely staying still on Green Bay's offensive line. Jenkins has started 36 games at left guard, eight at left tackle, six at right tackle and three at center in place of an injured Corey Linsley in 2020.
After inking a long-term extension with Green Bay in December, the 6-foot-5, 311-pound offensive lineman has one more title he's looking to add to his ever-expanding list of responsibilities: Leader.
"I said, when I first got here, I wanted to be with the team for 10-plus years, and right now I'm going into my fifth year," said Jenkins, who's participating on this week's Tailgate Tour throughout the state of Wisconsin. "So, right now, it's just like what we can do in the future going forward to help bring Super Bowls and making Green Bay better as a whole."
Still only 27, Jenkins is already one of the longest-tenured players on Green Bay's roster. By September, the Packers could possibly have just three players (David Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones and Jaire Alexander) with more accrued seasons in a green-and-gold uniform than Jenkins.
The former second-round pick takes that responsibility seriously, especially considering everything Bakhtiari, Linsley and former guard Lane Taylor did for him during Jenkins' formative NFL years. The arrow only continued to point up since Jenkins became a permanent starter in Week 3 of his rookie season in 2019.
In fact, the only real hiccup Jenkins has encountered as a pro was the torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in November 2021, while starting at left tackle in place of Bakhtiari. The injury sidelined Jenkins for 10 months and left Green Bay without its top two offensive linemen during last year's offseason program.
Back healthy again, the two Pro Bowlers fell into a familiar routine on the left side of Green Bay's offensive line last season, while serving as the standard bearers for a young position room featuring just one other veteran older than 25 (Yosh Nijman).
"We have a lot of chemistry from my rookie year to now," said Jenkins of his rapport with Bakhtiari. "Being able to be back to what we were doing before he got hurt (and) I got hurt, it felt good. So, the more reps we got together, it just felt more natural and more natural, basically."
In 2023, the youth movement will extend well beyond just the O-line, as the Packers turn the page to a new starting quarterback in Jordan Love. While the sample size is small, count Jenkins among those impressed by what they've seen from the former first-round pick.
Offensively, Jenkins admits it'll be different transitioning from a first-ballot Hall of Famer like Aaron Rodgers to a 24-year-old quarterback with fewer than 200 career regular-season snaps, but Love has won over teammates with his talent, temperament, and tireless work ethic.
"It's going to be a big change. It's going to be a big difference," Jenkins said. "You've got a Hall of Fame quarterback that you've been playing in front of for the last four years, and I'll say mentally wise it's probably going to be different because he's been playing the game for so many years, but I feel like we'll be good."
The No. 1 objective for Jenkins is keeping Love "as comfortable as possible" whether it's in practice or on gamedays. Individually, Jenkins is thankful to spend his offseason preparing his body once again for optimum performance rather than rehabbing from major surgery.
As the offense prepares to rally around Love, Jenkins wants to do everything in his power to help remove some of the offensive burden from new quarterback's shoulders – just like his teammates once did for him during Jenkins' first season as a starter.
"As long as I can remember, Aaron Rodgers has been the quarterback here, but it's a new chapter," Jenkins said. "We've got to embrace that and just move forward, just put points on the board like we always do."