GREEN BAY – Offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins, tight end Robert Tonyan and rookie receiver Christian Watson will practice for the first time in training camp Sunday, Head Coach Matt LaFleur confirmed just before the workout began.
All three had been on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) with knee injuries since the start of camp.
Tonyan tore his anterior cruciate ligament last season at Arizona in Week 8 (Oct. 28). Jenkins suffered the same injury against Minnesota in Week 11 (Nov. 21). Watson, a second-round draft choice, had a minor procedure on his knee after the offseason program wrapped up in June.
"It's the next step in the process," LaFleur said, emphasizing the team will be easing all the players back into action. "It's not like they're going to be out there in team (11-on-11) drills. They'll do some individual."
Coming off the PUP list, the players also will be allowed to participate in the walk-throughs the team holds as well, which can be particularly beneficial for a rookie like Watson still learning the playbook.
"We're excited about it," LaFleur said. "I think the guys are really excited about it as well. They're going to feel more a part of it. But we're still going to make sure we do it the right way. You're talking about significant injuries and certainly their health and safety is at the forefront of every decision we make."
LaFleur would not say whether any of the three would be ramped up quickly enough to play in a preseason game before that part of the schedule wraps up. It hasn't been ruled out but it isn't necessarily a goal.
Their activations certainly put Week 1 on the table, though, which would be impressive achievements for Tonyan and especially Jenkins coming back from midseason ACL tears.
Tonyan is less than 10 full months removed from his injury and Jenkins less than nine.
If Jenkins is able to play in the regular-season opener at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota, he would be returning to the same venue in which he suffered the injury. As to what position he would play in that scenario, LaFleur was non-committal.
Jenkins was David Bakhtiari's replacement at left tackle last season while Bakhtiari rehabbed his own torn ACL. He's also played right tackle when needed, and he's earned Pro Bowl recognition at left guard.
"Elgton's done everything that everybody's asked him to do in regards to the rehab process and he's been super-disciplined," LaFleur said. "That'll be a big boost when he is fully cleared to help us out.
"As far as where he's going to play, I think time will tell. I don't want to commit to the right side. I don't want to commit to the left side. He'll be ready when he's ready. We're not going to rush him back."